"I Wish I Had Decided To Go Sooner!"
Not only does SeeKenya change thousands of lives across Kenya, it also changes the lives of people in the UK - Lizzie King is one of them.
Lizzie qualified as a Dispensing Optician in 2012. In 2014, at a Low Vision Conference, she met SeeKenya’s Founder, Peter Marson. This is where she first caught sight of the vision of SeeKenya, and the incredible work it accomplishes. Little did she know how much that one conversation would change the course of her life.
A vision for Kenya
A Christian, Lizzie had already been to Kenya with other organisations on mission trips; in 2009 for two weeks, and 2011 for nine weeks. As a result, she had a love for the country and its people. The moment she heard Peter talk about SeeKenya and its work, she felt her heart pounding, and with God’s prompting, she knew she would be going back to Africa - this time on a clinic trip. She also realised that if she trained as an Optometrist, her skills would be even more valuable, especially in a country where quality healthcare is a luxury and services like SeeKenya are a lifesaver for many.
The challenges of preparation…
Over the next few years, Lizzie gained extra experience and qualifications. In 2017, she applied for an Optometry course, to become a qualified Optometrist. This was no mean feat, as Lizzie struggled with the thought of more studying, particularly as she had never been an academic person, and her dyslexia put her at a disadvantage. However, determined to be able to help more people in Kenya, in January 2018 Lizzie embarked on a tough 18 months course, knowing God would be with her every step of the way.
When Lizzie heard that there was space on the September 2019 SeeKenya trip, she was desperate to go. However, as she was due to start her pre-registration year just one month later in October 2019, she decided to go on the subsequent trip in February 2020. Instead, she used the time to gain experience so she could help even more people in Kenya.
In Kenya at last!
Lizzie finally got to go on a SeeKenya trip in February 2020 and had a brilliant time, wishing she had gone sooner! She had the opportunity to spend time in the glazing laboratory, dispensing and doing sight tests and referrals. As well as being able to help patients, she was able to learn about, and see, eye conditions that would be unseen in the UK. During this trip Lizzie was also able to try out some new software kindly donated by Jeff at AOS. This enabled her to take photos of the front of patient’s eyes – particularly helpful for those who have eye problems. On future clinic trips when patients return, new photos can be taken and therefore more complicated ongoing conditions can be closely monitored. This will provide a greater level of care and potentially will prevent the loss of sight to many Kenyans.
Fast forward a few months, Lizzie will become a fully registered optometrist after her assessments which will hopefully take place early 2021. After this, she plans on returning to Kenya again, especially to see the families and children she treated previously. This has been an almost six-year journey for Lizzie, from when she first heard about the work of SeeKenya, a journey which has transformed her life and the lives of those she has already helped.
If you feel inspired by Lizzie’s story, we would love for you to join us on one of our upcoming trips next year – whether you have any optometry experience or not! We guarantee plenty of fun, adventure and life-changing experiences thrown into the mix. Please do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to find out more!
Written by Lizzi Joyner