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The adventure continues!

Cœur de Gazelles

The mission is not over…

This morning, the Cœur de Gazelles team sets out for two consecutive days away from the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles bivouac. For the second time, the volunteers will enjoy a night under the stars before their final day of work.

Their mission is drawing to an end, but the queues are just as long. A father comes to the paediatricians for help. His 5-year-old son has serious burns over large part of his body. He scalded himself about 5 weeks ago, but could not be taken to hospital, which is too far from home. His parents treated him using traditional methods, but his injuries require more appropriate treatment.

The paediatricians take care of him immediately, and do everything necessary to clean his burns and relieve his pain. The regional nurse is then notified, because the boy will need to have his bandages changed every two days at the most. It will take some time to heal, but Aziz and Abdel will ensure that he receives the care and follow-up he needs.

Happy reunion

The opticians are also extremely busy. Suddenly Thibaut’s face lights up: a patient he knows well has just entered his “office”. Mohamed, a 9-year-old with Down’s Syndrome, visited the caravan last year. The opticians have lovely memories of his visit: after his consultation, the timid little boy left delighted with his new glasses!

With a great deal of affection, Thibaut and Audrey carry out vision acuity testing. Mohamed’s sight has not really changed, and communication is easier this time. Feeling confident, he communicates with the volunteers in his own way: through a series of smiles!

The team is delighted to see the little boy, and the feeling seems mutual.

Welcome Mr. Plat!

Éric Plat, CEO of our partner Atol Les Opticiens, does us the immense honour of visiting the caravan today.

Atol Les Opticiens has been involved with Cœur de Gazelles for several years. The company’s sponsorship makes it possible to set up a complete optical unit every year. Through this support, the opticians have access to the materials and equipment they need to treat a wide variety of corrections.


The optical unit

The people of southern Morocco are extremely exposed to the sun, and even though they are accustomed to it, their eyes need to be protected. The earlier this protection begins, the better their vision will be on the long term. Thanks to Vinyl Factory, hundreds of pairs of sunglasses have been distributed this year.

For his part, Thibaut, an employee of Atol Les Opticiens, is in charge of preparing the material before the start of the caravan. The lenses are prepared by CRIP Montpellier (Centre de Rééducation et d’Insertion Professionnelle), a job training and integration centre for disabled people. Unused lenses are recycled and cut to the right size to fit the frames provided by Atol Les Opticiens.

This process makes it possible for Thibaut to insert any lenses into the frames, to provide each patient with the best correction possible.

Looking after these patients is no simple task for the team. Their visual needs are totally different from ours and, before offering glasses, Thibaut, Anass and Audrey must first analyze these needs. The refractor loaned by Atol allows them to perform an initial test. The patients are then given a vision acuity, which will tell the opticians which correction is the most appropriate.

This correction must be appropriate for both the visual needs and what the patient can tolerate. A patient who has never worn glasses before will have difficulty adapting a correction that is too different from his or her original vision.

There is also another, less obvious, criterion: wearing glasses is not very common in remote areas, and patients are sometimes afraid to be seen in public. Therefore, they need a pair of glasses that they will be able to wear on a daily basis and that they like aesthetically. Adjusting between these criteria is done through observation: the patients don’t speak much, but make their feelings known through gestures and smiles, and a large part of the work is knowing how to decipher these signs.




Dominique Serra has dedicated this 29th edition to Nasrin Sotoudeh – prominent Iranian lawyer and human rights advocate – who has been sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes for “inciting corruption and prostitution” by defending women who took off their headscarves in public.

I encourage everyone to sign the petition for her release.