As a child, Mosoka Fallah was a promising student who loved books and learning. Yet from an early age, he squinted to see the lessons on the chalkboard. He sat in the front row, listening very carefully, relying on friends for help. By 11th grade, he couldn’t make out the letters or numbers on the board.
Mosoka grew up in Liberia with 10 siblings and his parents faced a daily struggle to feed their family, let alone buy their son the glasses he needed. When Mosoka was 16, his parents sent him on a long journey to a place he’d never been before, to find a man he’d never met before. This man was his wealthy uncle, his parents explained, who lived in another country and would help Mosoka buy a pair of glasses. Mosoka walked alone for days and when eventually he found his uncle, after getting lost numerous times, he discovered that this man was not wealthy at all. To the contrary, his uncle could scarcely bear another burden. Yet somehow he was able to scrape together enough money to buy Mosoka his first pair of glasses.
And those glasses changed Mosoka’s life.
Mosoka went on to earn a Masters degree in public health from Harvard and a PhD in microbiology from the University of Kentucky. With those credentials, he could have launched a lucrative career. Instead, he chose a life of service and founded Refuge Place International (RPI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to lifting Liberian families out of poverty.
RPI now partners with GoodVision USA to screen Liberian children for vision problems. If a child needs glasses, a new pair is made and fitted right there on the spot, and they walk home that day with their first pair of glasses, free of charge.
Mosoka’s story is proof that helping a child to see prevents them from dropping out of school. “Without glasses, none of my achievements would exist,” Mosoka reflects. “I would have left school and given up.” He believes that no family should ever be forced to choose between feeding their children or helping them to see better.