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Auckland hosted the Retinal International Congress for the first time on 10-11 February. This was a conference where most of the participants had some form of visual impairment. Although largely organised by the Department of Ophthalmology, 15 students from Parts III and IV of the BOptom programme volunteered to assist running the event.

“Everyone had a ball and I would like to acknowledge the effort our students put into helping the community by participating in these extracurricular activities,” said Dr Monica Acosta, Senior Lecturer and Part II coordinator.

Below is the letter we received from Sue Vyas, Volunteer Service Advisor at the Blind Foundation:

“It has been three days since the Retina Conference came to a close. In the last three days, I have heard nothing but praise for all of you, our wonderful student volunteers. It was due to your efforts that the entire event ran flawlessly. Thank you so much!

Blind Foundation staff, delegates, Retina International and Retina NZ have personally told me how well you supported the conference at every stage. Some even said our volunteers were the real stars of the conference.

It wasn’t easy (two very loooooong days) but all of you were fantastic! Whether it was sighted guide assistance, outdoor guides, meal time assistance, technology support, lecture theatre microphone runners, door openers (for those cumbersome doors) or any other help you offered, you all did an amazing job. A big thumbs up to those who braved the rough weather for outdoor guiding.

Lakshmi who assisted with the coordination conveys a BIG thanks to all of you and says she was blown away by your commitment and dedication.

A huge thanks to Monica who motivated all of you to be a part of this prestigious event. Watch out for the letters/certificates of recognition coming to all of you.

If you wish to register as a Blind Foundation volunteer, do let me know. It will be a privilege to have you as part of our volunteer team.”