Optometrist Mark Hansen, along with Australasian College of Optical Dispensing (ACOD) Director James Gibbins, are working to help Fijian optician Sylvester Prasad undergo his Certificate IV in Optical Dispensing. In order to complete the course, Mr Prasad is required to travel to Auckland, New Zealand for a face-to-face practical component, a costly task which requires sponsorship. Mr Prasad currently works as an assistant optician at The Eye Center, Lautoka, Fiji, and has experience as an optical dispenser however, until he is certified, he is limited in his ability to provide essential eye care beyond his current role.
“I want to do a mobile clinic where I can move around the Fiji Islands and help people out with their vision by screening them and providing them with glasses. That is what I’m planning to do but first I need to get certified.
“Right now I’m not able to do this work freely because of restrictions and, because of this, there are many areas where help is needed but I’m unable to help,” said Mr Prasad.
Mark Hansen, optometrist at Hansen Optometrists Eyecare Plus, was made aware of Mr Prasad’s situation and reached out to Mr Gibbins who, taking into consideration the travel expenses involved in attending the compulsory practical component in Auckland, agreed to substantially lower the course fee for Mr Prasad and any other students wishing to travel from Fiji.
The normal ACOD course fee for international students completing their workshops in New Zealand is NZ$8,000 however, after discussions with ACOD College Directors, this fee has been lowered to $4,500, which includes all learning materials, text books and practical materials associated with the workshops.
ACOD is currently in the process of investigating potential sponsorships to help finance this opportunity for Mr Prasad. Hansen Optometrists Eyecare Plus has already agreed to donate.
“We’ll be donating and we’re also looking for other sponsors that can help us fund the fees for this optical dispenser to do his course and gain certification,” said Mr Hansen.
“With the lowered fees we’re hoping to get enough money to sponsor the whole traineeship for Sylvester.”
Mr Hansen also noted the broader significance of Mr Prasad’s traineeship, indicating that his sponsorship will reap greater rewards for the Fijian community. Mr Gibbins said the College is extremely happy to assist Mr Prasad to gain his qualification, and indeed other members of the Fijian community.
“ACOD has a heart for dispensing training and aid work. We would love to start providing optical dispensing training for the South Pacific and beyond and we’d love to facilitate any potential industry sponsorships as well.
“We’ve made a start at meeting Sylvester’s needs however, if he is able to engage more potential students from Fiji, and if sponsorship was available, ACOD could go to Fiji to conduct the necessary workshops.”
Mr Prasad said he felt touched by Mark Hansen and ACOD’s desire to help and is hopeful for the future of optical dispensing and eye care in Fiji.
Anyone interested in contributing towards the cost of Mr Prasad’s course attendance, or assisting with sponsorship of course delivery in Fiji, should contact Mr Gibbins on (AUS) 0425 278 227 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or Mr Hansen (AUS) 0487 962 825.