The Observatory

Improving the eye health of my country

Leadership Inspiring Change

PNG Eye Care Senior Manager, Samuel Koim, reflexcts on how he got to where he is to day and why he is so passionate about improving the eye health for all Papua New Guineans.

Samuel in front of an eye glasses display in an optometrist's office

  • What was your inspiration to enter your chosen profession?

In the time that I was living on the streets in the settlement areas I saw first-hand how necessary it was to help less fortunate people. Later, when I got work for a newspaper company, I liked a story about good samaritans. I always wanted to do something to help others. I always wanted to stop selling (my job at the time was selling advertising) and start helping to make an impact. But how could I have a job and do that too?

Then I saw the position for PNG Eye Care being advertised in the newspaper and I applied. I knew that this is where I will make someone see better. This is where I will help someone differentiate between colours. This is where I will help someone reclaim their value in their family, community and life. And I knew this is where I can be a good samaritan.

Interestingly, I didn’t stop selling! I can sell as well as help others with the services that we provide. I feel blessed and satisfied when I see someone wearing glasses from PNG Eye Care walking away feeling relieved. That is when I know I have served my purpose.

  • What do you want to see happen in your community?

I want to see more people get their eyes tested. Hence I want more people to know that an eye test is always free at PNG Eye Care. I want to say to people who have difficulty reading—or refractive error—that ‘we can help you be able to see better.

I want people in my city and country to know that there is an organisation, where eye tests are free and which is selling affordable glasses to provide solutions to refractive error.

  • How do you see the work you do contributing towards this goal?          

By way of arranging outreaches in villages, schools, business houses and government departments, coordinating with other NGOs and Health organisations to go out doing free eye tests. Not only does this serve people directly but it is also raising the profiles of eye health for all the people.

  • What drives you to achieve/reach this goal?

Most of my people in the village can’t read or see well, and I know that there are more out there—many more across PNG—for whom it is the same. Eye glasses and even the test itself has been an expensive exercise in PNG for the last 20 years at least.

I want to be in the forefront to tell everyone that it is a free service now to have your eyes tested. It’s really simple to know the status of your eye but it is really a big impact on individuals and the country. It drives me to know I am making this difference for PNG.

  • What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership to me means a social influence and obligation I have to organise for a common task. I believe in being at the forefront, taking the lead and showing how it is done. Leadership to me means getting down there, organising tasks, start doing it and let you team see what and how it is done and helping them so they can complete the rest.