JIS News

The Canadian Friends – St. Thomas Healthcare Organization (CFSTH) is pledging to do more in 2005 for the visually challenged in Jamaica.
The charitable organization, which usually takes Canadian eye-care professionals to Jamaica, will be involved in at least two medical visits in 2005 and will also provide optometry equipment to furnish a second examination room at the Princess Margaret Hospital, St. Thomas.
“In March we will assist a vision care team from the University of Waterloo,” explained Mr. Dan Williamson, the group’s Chairman and Public Relations Officer. “And in July we will be taking a double team to Jamaica which will include two optometrists and one optician,” he added.
The organization, made up of former residents of the parish of St. Thomas who are now living in Toronto, Canada, was formed in 1984 to provide assistance to the health sector in Jamaica, particularly to the residents of St. Thomas.
In 1999 the group took its first team of Canadian eye-care professionals to Jamaica. Since then, more than 2,000 Jamaicans have been provided with optical assistance and the group has completely outfitted one examination room at the Optometry Clinic at the Princess Margaret Hospital. Members also donate hours of their time in the weeks and months before each trip, collecting used glasses and analyzing them in preparation for dispensing to Jamaican patients.
The team in March 2005, to be headed by Dr. Murchison Callender, Professor Emeritus at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry, will conduct several eye-care clinics in Kingston, St. Catherine and Portland. The clinics will be held at the Foundation of International Self Help (FISH) and the Ministry of Labour in Kingston; Portmore, Spanish Town, the Police Academy in St. Catherine, and at Fair Prospect in Portland.
Dr. Callender, who has been taking the University’s optometry interns to Jamaica since 1974, has corrected the vision of thousands of Jamaicans. Last year he was honoured by CFSTH for the 30 years of medical assistance he has provided to Jamaica.In July 2005, Jamaican-born optometrist Dr. Carolyn Jarrett along with Dr. Victor Obasuyi will conduct a one-week clinic to be held at the Princess Margaret Hospital.
Dr. Jarrett, who has a thriving practice in Toronto, is a graduate of Wolmer’s Girls’ school. This will be her third time leading a medical team to Jamaica.The week’s activities in July will also include the re-naming of the Optometry Clinic at the Princess Margaret Hospital in memory of the late Dr. George Sewell who died in February 2003.
“Dr. Sewell honoured us by being the first optometrist in 1999 to conduct clinics at the Princess Margaret Hospital,” said Mr. Williamson. “He has left his mark on the group and we are still energized by his positive spirit and dedication,” he added.
The members of Canadian Friends – St. Thomas Healthcare always lend their support to causes in Jamaica. The group was one of the first to make a donation to the Jamaican Consulate’s Hurricane Ivan Relief Fund when its President Andrea Wilkie presented a cheque for Cdn$500 to Consul General, Vivia Betton.
The organization generates much of its funding from its annual pre-Easter brunch. This year’s event will be held on Sunday, March 20 at the Jamaican Canadian Centre in Toronto.

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