Among Philip Reiler’s duties as Head of Public Relations for the Norwegian arm of optical retail chain Specsavers, he leads the company’s annual Give Sight to Tanzania project.
Each year, Philip and a team of optometrists and support staff travel to the East African nation, where eye health in rural areas is a critical and ongoing issue.
Beneath the spectacular backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, the team creates its own spectacle by conducting eye tests and matching prescription glasses—all donated by Specsavers customers—to needy recipients.
“We bring about 5,000 pairs of glasses with us, although not all are handed out,” says Philip, who graduated with a Bachelor of Business from Griffith University in 2004, preceding completion of a Master of Arts (Journalism and Mass Communication) in 2006.
“In terms of optical health, the damaging intensity of the Tanzanian sun is exacerbated by limited resources for eye health, optometry and even something as simple as sunglasses.
“This means the early stages of eye disease tend to go untreated, and so optical problems escalate over time.
“Through this project, however, we are bringing something practical, purposeful and positive to the people of Tanzania.
“It’s wonderful to be a part of it.”
After several years in journalism, Philip landed the Specsavers role in his homeland of Norway in 2015. The company complements its business performance with international philanthropic projects, including Give Sight to Tanzania.
“All over the world there are millions of pairs of glasses just lying around gathering dust. Recycling is a great outcome because these glasses have the ability to change people’s lives,’ says Philip.
“The positive impacts are many: helping schoolchildren who haven’t been able to follow classroom lessons because of poor eyesight; making it possible for adults to learn a craft or new skills because suddenly they can see clearly; protecting eyes to prevent future problems.
“To see the smiles on the people’s faces is such a rewarding experience. It creates a strong sense of pride in being part of a company that takes its social responsibility very seriously.”