A good encounter
It was while we were undertaking addiction teaching in Blantyre, Malawi in 2014 that we first met George and Diana Franklin; during our conversations across the dinner table in our shared hotel we realised that we had much in common.
George and Diana are from Clovis, New Mexico and for over ten years have visited many of the most needy African nations, bringing with them donated spectacles, fitting them free of charge to people who otherwise would have no hope of having their vision restored.
Their charity is called SEE Ministries, and they have fitted an amazing total of over 40,000 pairs of glasses in the most inaccessible of communities where there is huge need.
Mission chums (or buddies)
It is always best to travel with friends and they invited us to accompany them on their next trip, wherever it might be, to see if our ministries complemented one another; an invitation which we gladly accepted.
Our first trip together in October 2015 went swimmingly well. We visited four communities around Mbale; and having crossed the border into Kenya, three more in the area around Tongaren. Over 2,000 pairs of spectacles were fitted by George and Diana, assisted by Pastor James. Addiction Recovery groups were set up in all seven communities both for the sufferers and for their families; local pastors agreed to provide continuing support.
George Franklin writes:
October 2018, the Franklins and Dr. Blackburn were in Amsterdam saying our goodbyes. We had been traveling together in Africa under the aegis of SEE Ministries, Inc. Dr. Blackburn had completed another round of addiction teaching in Kenya and Uganda and was headed home to the UK. We were boarding a flight for New Mexico, USA after completing a detailed survey trip to Mbale, Uganda checking on our new sanitary pad production plant.
SEE Ministries, Inc. is currently supporting 6 Primary Schools in Mbale District, with 720 girls in need of help to complete their primary education. Without our help providing disposable sanitary pads, these girls miss about 20% of school each month, and many drop out because it is impossible to keep up scholastically. They suffer humiliation from other students when their clothes become soiled. Their families see them as a burden and push them towards early marriages. We were able to visit all 6 schools and meet the teachers, the administrators and the girls. The teachers told us that since our program came to their schools, they have not seen one spot of blood, and the girls are very much happier. Also, many of the girls who had dropped out are now coming back to school.
History of SEE Ministries:
The Lord first called George and Diana Franklin to Africa in 1985, on a World Bible School mission to Ghana, West Africa. Since then there has been a succession of trips to seven of the most needy African nations. They first sharpened their swords by teaching Bible correspondence courses, and followed up by going to Africa to visit their students and the local churches. In 1995, Diana became an optician and they re-organized to take Lions Club donated glasses and conduct clinics, examining and fitting glasses free of charge to people who otherwise would have no hope of having their vision improved. SEE Ministries joined with missionaries located in Uganda and officially organized SEE as a public charity. Donated glasses were just too labour intensive so they switched to purchasing brand new spherical glasses which were easier to fit. The last eyeglasses clinic was in 2015. SEE had fitted over 40,000 adults and children with free glasses.
George Franklin: God then did a most amazing thing! Out of the blue, He called us to a new, and much larger ministry. We reorganized SEE, Sight for Ever and Ever, to
SEE, Scholarship – Excellence – Expectations. In an instant, so to speak, we were changed from an annual mission to a daily program requiring funds every month and often several times each month. Initially production had been by hand, supporting a few girl pupils; but now a building has been rented for a production plant, equipment has been installed, and an SUV has been purchased. Delivering supplies to the 6 schools requires driving 125 miles every month.
There is now an organizational demand for responsible people in three countries:
The USA: a Board of Directors: George Franklin (CEO), Diana Franklin (Sec/Treas), Lemon Dotson (Director)
Uganda: James Luchivya (Sr. Director), Joan Mbeiza (Counsellor), Faith L. Wanyonyi and Marget Wandera
Plant labour: 20 volunteers
Kenya: Johnstone Kapa (Advisor)