Eye clinic in Alailelai

Health is the Way to Make Life Good

This guest blog was written by Mbekure Metemi, director of AMSO, one of our partner organizations. 

After many months of planning and coordination, AMSO and several other organizations conducted an eye clinic in December.

Eye Clinic in Alailelai
Ryan Dugan, of AMIGOS, examines a patient at an eye clinic in Alailelai in December. All photos courtesy Craig Bowen.

The clinic relied on the supervision and connection of a number of NGOs within Ngorongoro division—including AMSO, NDI, Kiretono Resource Organization and AMIGOS Eyecare. In order to make the clinic happen, it was necessary to obtain permits from the Tanzanian Ministry of Health, District Medical Office and the Conservateur of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

“We so appreciate all the thought, effort, planning and care that went into improving the process this year over last year and it is exciting to think of the possibilities going forward,” said Tina and Wantay Irmakesen, of Kiretono, about the clinic.

Doctor Shemagembe of the Nainokanoka Health Center (NHC) did much work to facilitate and provide communication for all of this.

The AMIGOS,  “a student led organization at Pacific University College of Optometry which provides medical eyecare to underprivileged areas around the world,” decided to help the Maasai community with eye problems and eye infections. The group brought one professional daktari (doctor) and seven students (madakitari wanaofanya mafunzo) for field assessment.

During the Clinic

They brought supplies like sunglasses, prescription glasses and medicines for ears and eyes, as well as tools to give the vision tests. Patients there read the capital letters so the doctors would know how much the eyes of the patient were affected. The doctors saw some patients in the clinic rooms and they also set up tables outside on the porch.

Eye Clinic in Alailelai
Dr. Craig Bowen administers eye tests to a young patient during the eye clinic.

The number of people who attended the eye clinic from Alailelai was more than 60, but more than 145 people attended the clinic at NHC in total.


Most of the people paid the bodabodas (motorcycle taxis) themselves, but AMSO also transported and paid for many clinic attendees. Next time we plan to use more than one car in order to take more people, as the clinic was very busy.

The village officer and chairperson joined AMSO staff during the initial stages of finding local people who needed eye services. In village meetings, we asked every person to tell their relatives and share the information. This is the Maasai way to spread important information.

This project is very important because the recipients are doing better after receiving good medical service; additionally, most of the people are able to attend because it was very close compared to the one in Karatu and also is less expensive (rather than having to pay for transport).  

This is also important because it helps the patients who are not able economically to get and enjoy services that make their lives better. It is also important for AMSO to implement the mission of seeing a community where people are able to get health services.

Health is the way to make life good

Eye clinic in Alailelai
The clinic was a joint effort between Maasai Partners and several other organizations.

It is so important because it helps our grandfathers and grandmothers (Babu and Bibi) to get medical services in the village, so they do not have to travel far looking for the medication.

The project is highly important for AMSO to be connected with different networks in the world.  

I spent a very long time meeting with different people in order to organize the eye clinic at Nainokanoka Health Center. I will never forget the effort from Kim and Jaime in the meeting that took place at Happy Days in Karatu to find out the plan for the clinic and divide duties to each person.

I also visited all three villages on different days to make the project clear and introduce it to the community. During this preparation, I looked for places where there are no roads and organized for bodabodas to pick up patients there.

Eye clinic in Alailelai
Ashley Silva takes information from patients at the front of a long line of those who came for and received eye care. Andy Mackner helps another patient.

Asante sana (thank you very much) for everyone involved in helping, especially AMIGOS, who brought their services, Kiretono, who introduced us to AMIGOS and this opportunity, and Maasai Partners, who provided a grant for fuel that allowed us to transport people to the clinic.

Find Amigos Eye Clinic on Facebook!

*A note from Maasai Partners

We were overjoyed and impressed when Mbekure offered to write a blog about this clinic, which he had a huge role in organizing and bringing to Alailelai. We look forward to seeing what other crucial services he will continue to bring to this remote part of Ngorongoro Conservation Area and to more guest blogs in the future!

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