Hello, Today, I’d like to update you about a recent Spirit of America effort to support a US Civil Affairs team in East Africa. SoA provided much-needed adjustable eyeglasses to be distributed across former al-Shabaab affected areas of East Africa. This effort was made possible by Adlens, who generously provided the glasses to SoA at a greatly reduced price. We first told you about this project here. The Civil Affairs Team and their local military counterparts conducted an outreach event at an orphanage and boarding school for underprivileged youth where they were able to provide vision screening to the children and glasses to those in need. The orphanage is home to approximately 350 children, ranging in age from five to 17 years old. When the team and their partners arrived, there were more than 50 children already standing in line for eye exams. Throughout the event, cheers of joy could be heard as children were given the gift of clear vision for the first time in their lives. Almost all of the children who received glasses were struggling with learning to read and other daily tasks. At the end of the event, while speaking with members of the US team, lead administrator expressed his gratitude; not only for the glasses but for the opportunities they would provide the children in the future. He stated that without the ability to read they would be more vulnerable to violent extremism and much more likely leave school before finishing. By the end of the day-long event all the students had received exams and more than 40 had received new Adlens glasses. Connecting people to their governments, making them feel as though their needs are being heard and addressed, and ensuring that youths have the hope of a better future are the best ways to combat extremism. The efforts of the US Civil Affairs Team and their local military partners are doing all three of these critical things and Spirit of America is proud to be able to support their efforts thanks to your generous donations. The Civil Affairs Team will continue to provide adjustable lens eyeglasses to other at-risk populations in the near future and we’ll be sure to provide you with updates as they do. Chris VanJohnson Project Manager – Africa
Chris is a US Army veteran having served as an Armor officer with a deployment to Baghdad in 2008-09 and then as a Special Operations Civil Affairs Officer with multiple deployments to Nepal in 2011-12.