VEF is affiliated with JOCON in Africa
Jocon Glaucoma Foundation’s story is one that is dear to our hearts at Visual Experience Foundation. It started with a stirring deep inside a young woman from Nigeria, Africa who is in her twenties. Her full name is Umunnakwe Concilia Ashwarya. To us, she’s Concilia. Two years ago she sent us a few messages on the internet to say that she saw what VEF was doing and that she wanted to do something similar in Africa.
We were receiving plenty of emails at the time and VEF was slightly overwhelmed after we launched our first Sight Visit© to Niagara Falls. That was in June of 2014. We were establishing ourselves in the USA and were grateful to receive the news coverage at Niagara Falls that brought tremendous exposure to our work. The coverage caught the attention of ABC World News and they asked to film us in a subsequent Grand Canyon Sight Visit© and teaching of our BurnIt!© technique of capturing visual memories to those losing their vision. It was an exciting time for us and our focus was on raising funds for this monumental event in our short history.
We were still parsing through countless letters of people who wanted our help. It was and is a humbling process and mostly filled with tears. We want to help everyone, yet we realized that there weren’t a lot of funds being donated. How could we help someone in Africa?
Concilia started calling us on the phone. We would speak for a few moments and then her phone time would run out. She would say: “There is no information here.” We need to tell the people about glaucoma.” Our hearts were being squeezed but “All in God’s time”, we told ourselves.
One morning, we received a Facebook Instant Message from another woman from Africa. She identified herself as Joy Odiase, a single mom in her early 30’s who had been diagnosed with glaucoma. She wanted to know if there was anyone she could talk to. Wait, what part of Africa?
We discovered that Joy also was from Nigeria. This was an amazing coincidence to have two women contact us, both with glaucoma and both from Nigeria. We immediately connected these two woman so they could fellowship with each other.
It was certainly a special moment when we got an early morning phone call the next day from Joy praising God and thanking us for connecting her with Concilia. We cry a lot at VEF and the tears were flowing. It was a moment that made us feel that we weren’t crazy for following our hearts to have embarked on this path.
Since then, we helped the woman start a Facebook page using part of both of their names. Jo for Joy and Con for Consilia and Jocon Glaucoma Foundation was born online. Their mission is to bring awareness about glaucoma to Africa. This December they are planning their first Glaucoma Awareness Conference.
As a faith-based organization, we continue to be in awe of how God works and how this has all come about. We are very happy to be affiliated with the Jocon Glaucoma Foundation. This coming June of 2017 we plan to bring Consilia and Joy to visit NYC and Niagara Falls to provide a VEF sight visit. In this stunning natural phenomenon, they will burn visual memories and we will learn from each other how we can be used together to impact as many lives as we can.