Best Projects 2019 features all the nominated entries submitted ‘Submit your Project’ category. All the entries consist of innovative projects run by existing enterprises in the form of businesses, NGOs or informal programs.
Explain your project in details:
Eyesaver's mission is to have every child in Thailand have their eyes tested. Of the 4 million primary students in Thailand, 72% are visually impaired and this portends dire consequences to health, education, and the economy of Thailand. Children lacking proper vision struggle to build a strong academic foundation and often grow up without the skills for a financially stable profession. The following generations are hobbled by the lack of fiscal mobility and the cycle of poverty is not broken. Moreover, some ocular diseases can lead to blindness or even death in severe cases when left untreated. In the rural areas of Thailand, the minimum daily wage is under 9 USD which does not allow for families to pay transportation costs to a clinic, let alone the doctor fees. This results in many treatable diseases and syndromes being left undiagnosed and treated. Thai schools try to provide some medical assistance but the government funding is limited. To provide a nationwide solution for part of this problem, a system to screen for eye complications was developed and is distributed to schools for free. The system is a kit with the tools to test for eye issues and instructions that are both written and links to view videos at our website, www.eyesaverthai.org, to demonstrate the proper techniques. Further, the kit includes forms to track the testing and forms to give to the students and parents for medical referrals. In addition to distributing kits, the Eyesaver team travels around Thailands to help administer tests to schoolchildren. Each of our screening kits only cost approximately 6 USD. With sufficient recognition and funding, Eyesaver can accomplish its goal of bringing proper eye care to all of Thailand's youth.
Impact of your enterprise on sustainable development
To date, we have visited several schools across Thailand and performed eye-screening tests on over 1000 students with over 200 students testing positive for refractive errors and 50 for lazy eye. So far, we have distributed over 300 eye screening kits. Our testing progress is updated on our website: www.eyesaverthai.org. Our eye screening kits have been approved by Dr. Apatrasa Leksakul and Dr. Anun Vongthongsri, both leading ophthalmologists in Thailand. We have also been recognized by an official from the Thailand Ministry of Education and are awaiting government response to our request for a grant and help with mass delivery of screening kits. The project will continue into the future because a student group at Ruamrudee International School has formed to sustain its good work. I am coaching them on how to fundraise so eventually this project will be able to employ at least one full-time staff member so the goal of every child being tested is realized. Eyesaver has gotten the attention of several media figures in Thailand, including the chief editor of Praew, one of the most popular magazines in Thailand, and Kru Kate, a very famous English Teacher with a heavy follower base across social media platforms. Both has been very helpful in promoting our organization: currently, we have recorded a radio broadcast and filmed a professional promotional video, both of which can be found on our youtube channel "Eyesaver Thailand". Now, we are working on contacting the National Red Cross and WHO to help with expanding the project.
Sustainability and future plans
Most funding for Eyesaver up until now has been from the 3200 dollars grant from Bang Chak Corporation, one of the leading oil companies in Thailand. I published an article in the school magazine requesting funds from parents and have received small donations from there as well. Recently, Eyesaver has requested more funding from the Thailand Ministry of Education and is awaiting a response. We are also in the process of making a GoFundMe and Indegogo account for a steady flow of donations for making of future kits. Our kits cost approximately 6 U.S. dollars each. From the Bang Chak grant, we purchased 500 kits. The rest of the money went into promoting our organization and making posters for our visits to school. The number of future kits assembled will depend on the amount of donations we receive. We plan to set up donation boxes for unused prescription glasses around shopping complexes in the future because some students cannot afford medical care after failing the screening test. They dont receive treatment even though aware of their condition, preventing them from concentrating in class. Additionally, we are discussing how in the future to use our delivery of eye screening materials to include screening for other health issues, such as dental and skeletal problems. Additionally, I plan to expand Eyesaver internationally as well. We are in contact with Syrian refugee camps that have expressed interest in our screening kits, as there are many children there that do not receive sufficient medical attention. There are also many other camps around the world that lack adequate healthcare. Expanding Eyesaver outside Thailand will result in a global effort to rid our world of eye problems.
Your profile as an entrepreneur
Being the son of an opthamologist, I grew up listening to stories about how people did not or could not take proper care of their eyes. Most people do not know that improper care can lead to serious health issues and, in extreme cases, death. When I got old enough, I recognized that a need exists in Thailand to provide eye screening for young children and I decided to fill that need with Eyesaver. I, like many people, am fearful about the changes coming to our environment. My love of science has led me to do research at two different universities after school and on weekends. The first research was turning silk into microcapsules for delivering medicinal drugs. The second research is how to use nanoparticles as catalysts. I have become passionate about this topic as catalytic reactions require less energy so there is a smaller carbon footprint. My specific research involves testing for pesticides which will result in lower exposures to the environment and people and producing the same amount of food with less resources. I have been fortunate to present my research at the International Conference for Key Engineering Materials at Oxford University in 2019. Additionally, I am a regional finalist for the Google Science Contest for my work in this area. I have also wanted to make the world more aware of the power of catalysts so I recruited a filmmaker and we produced a video on this topic, which won the 1st place for the World of 7 Billion contest. My other interests include music, history, and English. My performances have won national and international competitions. I have won medals for History Bowl and World Scholar's Cup competitions. When I have time, I learn programming because I wish to use artificial intelligence to leverage my research.