The Optical Foundation’s 2019 Frans Oosterhof Travel Grant to attend the 2019 BCLA Conference in Manchester, UK was awarded to:
Miss Nutifafa Esther Senanu a level 500 Optometry student at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana;
Mr Ebenezer Zaabaar a level 500 Optometry student at University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana.
These two students were selected out of a total of 20 applications (8 female and 12 male students) judged by The Optical Foundation Advisory Committee. The selection criteria included academic record, work/research experience, leadership potential and evidence of volunteering in the community
This was the first time The Optical Foundation could offer two grants simultaneously, thanks to CooperVision UK providing support for return airfares, transport in the UK, hotel accommodation and a Gala Dinner at the conference; and the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) for waiving the attendance fees for the winning students at the clinical conference in Manchester.
Miss Nutifafa Esther Senanu comes from Agbozome, a little village in the Volta Region of Ghana where the mindset is for women to be in the kitchen or farm and they are never encouraged to have a career – especially not in a field such as Optometry, which is deemed for men. It is Nutifafa dream to become a pediatric Optometrist (specializing in keratoconus); a Vision Science Professor (a position mainly dominated by men) and also a Woman’s Advocate to empower women in education (especially in deprived communities similar to where she comes from).
Mr Ebenezer Zaabaar comes from Nandom-Piina in the Upper West region of Ghana where he completed his high school education. Growing up in one of the regions of the world where the state of eye care is in alarming contrast to the rest of the globe and realizing that the burden of poverty is high among the blind in Ghana, his ultimate career goal is to become an optometry and vision science professor who will hold a teaching and research position in an academic institution in Ghana where he hope to lecture, mentor and supervise research projects. A career in academia will allow him contribute to the training of a lot more versatile and proficient optometrists who will reach out to medically underserved communities, especially, eye care professional shortage rural areas in Ghana.