MacKenzie Scott has donated $15 million to provide hundreds of thousands of people with eyeglasses. The donation was made to VisionSpring, a non-profit targeting this economic hindrance for Agricultural Workers and Artisans. It’s believed to be the largest private donation towards assisting uncorrected blurry vision, and will help mainly low-income tea, coffee, cocoa and artisan workers in India, Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.
VisionSpring routinely finds that 65-85% of workers acquiring eyeglasses through its vision access programs have never had their sight tested before and become first-time wearers of glasses. They gain improved productivity, income and well-being the moment glasses move from case to face. Research also shows that eyeglasses improve quality of life, reducing depression and anxiety, and increasing involvement in religious and family life.
It’s believed these workers could produce $1 billion annually in additional value for themselves and their businesses thanks to the increased productivity from being able to see well. VisionSpring has highlighted that the benefits of a correct pair of eyeglasses are immediate, leading to reduced anxiety and depression and richer family lives from being able to see loved-ones’ faces and expressions more clearly.
VisionSpring’s chief executive Ella Gudwin said “The gift from Ms. Scott is an incredible acknowledgment of the power of a simple pair of eyeglasses to unlock earning, learning, safety and wellbeing for people vulnerable to poverty. And, with this powerful endorsement of our work, we are embarking on a multi-year journey to put Livelihoods in Focus, addressing the massive vision care gap among agricultural and artisan workers in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.”
Scott made the declaration in a letter to the Giving Pledge, the philanthropic initiative created by the investor Warren Buffett and Microsoft’s principal founder, Bill Gates, to encourage the world’s richest people to commit to giving away at least half their wealth to charity. MacKenzie Scott, Jeff Bezos’s notoriously press-shy ex-wife, has given away more than $12.8 billion in a little over two years.