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Gifts of Sights: Giving Used Eyeglasses a Second Life

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Have you ever seen Judyth at our shop? She is an amazing lady we must acknowledge! Want to know why? Keep reading! 

Needless to say, we see the beauty in everything through our eyes, sometimes with a little help.  According to a statistic derived from the Vision Council of America’s claim that about 75 percent of the adult population worldwide uses vision correction products, and 64 percent of them wear glasses. For some people, glasses are a necessity or great modish accessories. But for those people who live in remote places throughout the world, it’s a gift. So give your used eyeglasses a second life.

Over the past two years, thousands of used glasses were dropped off at The Hive stores by our customers for donation and distributed by Judyth to villagers in Myanmar. 

Gifts of Sights is a non-profit glasses donation program founded by Judyth Gregory Smith. Born and bred in London, United Kingdom, Judyth is determined to help those who are less fortunate in life.  

It all started when I was travelling by Win San, a taxi driver in Mandalay. I asked him, “Win San, do you know if there’s anyone in your village who would like to have my old glasses”? 

After that incident, whenever I saw Win San, he will say that his uncle said thanks for giving him back his reading.  

Again, I asked Win San. “Are there many people in Myanmar with bad eye sights”? 

He looked at me as if I am mad and replied, “There will be thousands”! 

For the past five years, Judyth has been travelling to remote villages in Myanmar with Win San and his wife, Saya Htay, who helps to polish the used glasses before giving them out.

It’s just a team of 3, we are all just devoted to give away glasses to people often in a very isolated villages. They have no enough money to buy glasses. In fact, I’ve never seen anyone there who wears glasses. 

So I made an effort to make their life better. We go to different villages, there is absolutely no favouritism.  

Giving Used Eyeglasses a Second Life

Judyth would travel to Myanmar between three to five times a year to distribute glasses. Each time, she would give away about 400 pairs. In June 2019, about 430 pairs of glasses were given away within 12 days.  

I have so many unforgettable moments when I was in Myanmar. For instance, there was an old man with a hugely tall grandson who couldn’t read or write or do literally anything since birth. However, his grandfather able to taught him basket weaving. So it was nice to give the grandfather an eyeglass. 

Another group of people that I like to give the glasses are called toddy tappers. In case if you didn’t know, the toddy palms are immensely tall, it’s the tallest palm tree you can think of. The person who owns them would climb up every day to the top of the tree, makes a little incision and goes down again. We have been to villages where a toddy palm person has been killed. 

There’s another lady that I can remember. She is a weaver and the sole breadwinner of her family. One day, she noticed that her weaving was not as good as it used to be. So it was a great pleasure to give her a glass to help her weave better. 

Since Judyth is not making any income from this project, she travels on a budget. Normally, she stays at modest places. 

At the present time, Judyth collects donated glasses from The Hive, Reliance Optical and The Association of British Women in Malaysia (ABWM). Since she is not a social media user, she communicates mainly through emails. 

Judyth is also a nature and travel writer of Myanmar: a Memoir of Loss and Recovery, Sulawesi: Ujung Pandang to Kendari and Southeast Sulawesi – Islands of Surprises. Currently, she is residing in Kuala Lumpur with her children. She is 76 years old. 

I want to keep on doing what I am doing. And the wonderful thing is, the glasses are always coming in. 

31 thoughts on “Gifts of Sights: Giving Used Eyeglasses a Second Life

  1. Yenny says:

    Hello!
    I know of an optical shop in KL that would like to contribute in this as well by setting up a donation box. Is there any way I can contact Judyth?

    Thanks,

    • The Hive - Admin says:

      Hi Ang,
      Sorry we missed your message.
      We do not have a drop off in Penang but you can always ship them to our Bangsar Store.
      The Hive
      92A, Lorong Marrof
      59000 Bangsar
      Kuala Lumpur

      Thank you so so much

  2. Klabba says:

    Is there a way to donate in Myanmar? I live here, and the optometrist I went to said they didn’t have a program like this. I’d like to donate my old glasses as well….

    • The Hive - Admin says:

      Hello
      Klabba you mean you leave in Malaysia?
      If yes, you can drop your prescriptions glasses to any of our 3 stores 🙂
      We are hoping in 2021 we can travel again to Myanmar and our program Gifts of Sights resume.

  3. ZhoYee says:

    Hi, I’m based in Penang. Do you have any outlet or collaborators we can donate our old spectacles?

  4. Lina Dalila says:

    Hi, I wish to donate my old spectacles. Do you have any specific criteria / instructions to do so?

  5. NILUFER SENYUVA says:

    Hi there!
    I tried to find your TTDI shop last year, but unfortunately, I would not be able to. There was no sign which I looked at all the row of starting from Secret Recipe till up to the end of the road. I, then happen to see your Intermark shop by coincidentally when I was coming from the carpark.
    Isn’t there any big sign for HIVE in TTDI?
    If not, why?

    • The Hive - Admin says:

      Hi Nilufer,
      We are sorry to hear you could not find our store in TTDI, we have to admit the street is pretty packed with a lot of small stores 🙂 There is a sign outside on the first floor (we are located on the first floor) but it might be hard to see.
      There is a sign on the door downstairs too, but again it is true the street is so busy, we are exactly at the opposite of Burger King above the flower shop for next time 💛
      Glad you bumped into our Intermark store and we hope you enjoyed the sustainable shopping experience ⭐️

  6. Kerry Chay says:

    Dear Sir / Madam

    How are you ?

    I’m Kerry Chay from Metro Eyewear Holdings Sdn Bhd (MOG Optical – HQ) and our company would like to donate some our old spectacles.

    Metro Eyewear Holdings Sdn. Bhd. is one of the largest optical retailer in the Malaysia, operating across peninsular Malaysia, 91 stores. Metro Eyewear Holdings Sdn. Bhd. is committed to delivering superior, high quality and affordable eye care to more and more people.

    With over 590 employees, Metro Eyewear Holdings Sdn. Bhd. makes a difference to the communities it operates within, and as part of its commitment to Vision. Taken Seriously, and as a responsible and caring retailer, it is proud to partner with a range of healthcare charities, which have touched the lives of customers and teams.

    Metro Eyewear Holdings Sdn. Bhd. was converted into a public limited company and further listed under The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited on 15th April 2020

    Please advise full address and contact number as soon as possible.

    Best regards
    Kerry Chay

  7. Dhanya Lakshmy says:

    My name is Dhanya. I am currently a student from Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar and the President of KTJ LEO club.

    My club would like to formally ask if we could collect frames and donate them to your charitable intiative.

    So far, 100 frames have been pledged by Lions Club members from all around Malaysia for this project.

    Kindly let us know how we should proceed. We are able to courier the glasses to you.

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