A New Purpose in Overlanding – Improving People’s Eyesight #ThisIsUs


Covid-19 has still gone strong in 2021, and at the end of June, the pandemic was taking over South Africa. This resulted in more travel restrictions and lockdowns. However, 4x4OUTFAR founder Anton Poplett didn’t let this stop him. He left Cape Town in his Land Rover Defender 110, joined by Cam Stuart, Karl Danneberg, and his wife and daughter.


The World Health Organization states that there are over two billion people with a distance or near vision impairment. 50% of these cases have never been addressed or had the chance to be prevented. Kevin White, a retired U.S. Marine, wanted to address the issue.


Working to Improve Eyesight


There are only three steps to improve eyesight. The Global Vision 2020 kit begins with an eye chart test. It includes fingers held in the correct direction, either right, left, up, or down.


If the person taking the test is found to have bad vision, they can take a self-diagnostic lens kit resembling sunglasses, although they have long clear lenses and large white knobs on both sides. The knobs have to be turned by the patient to dial the lenses up and down in front of their eyes until they can see properly.


Lastly, there will be a color-coded system that will allow the patient to pick the right lens for each eye and then snap them into a frame pair.


Different organizations partner with Global Vision 2020 manufacturers to deliver the eyeglasses. Anton Poplett is the one running the organization in Africa, combining it with his passion for overlanding.


Encountering Elephants


Two years were spent planning the Borbirwa Eye Project. Before that, in another project, the team went to schools that were around the Okavango Delta district to deliver multiple pairs of glasses. But now, he wanted to go to the six main schools in the Borbirwa wild Tuli block region. Here, traffic jams are different, as they involve wildlife, like elephants. Leopards and lions are also to be seen.


Anton had to spend some time preparing for this journey, as the traffic jams are combined with bad roads and bad phone reception too. Luckily, the adventure started smoothly, at least until they went to their first camp on the Limpopo River’s banks after dark.


But Anton had a new set of Vision X ADV2 lights installed on his vehicle, which was very helpful.


Testing All Children


The project began after a whole weekend of preparations. There were more than 2000 children that needed screening in five days. To make sure all children were tested, everyone on the expedition participated in the process.


Also, everything was done while considering all the mask-wearing, temperature check, sanitizing, and social distancing precautions. Most of the younger children also had a familiar person with them to help them with the testing.


All this testing led to the team discovering an undiagnosed condition in 10 children, respectively keratoconus. It is dangerous for someone’s sight because the cornea is progressively thinning.




The expedition was tough because of the roads, but Karl and Anton had the equipment and skills to help them succeed. Dealing with wildlife on the roads was also a challenge, but everyone found joy in this adventure.


For more info: Ferenc Elekes <ferenc@overlandsite.net>