Since 2005, VOSH/International has been working towards sustainability of its humanitarian clinics and programmes. One essential aspect of this approach is supporting the development of local human resources by recruiting US-trained optometrists to teach the new generations of optometrists in the ever-growing number of optometry schools across the world. In collaboration with the Brien Holden Vision Institute Foundation, the VOSH Corps programme was initiated in 2011.
In 2016, Dr Robert E. Molter, Jr, OD and his wife Kimberly Molter, OD were recruited to teach in the Pham Ngoc Thac University School of Optometry in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Until then, the Molters’ lives were successful and fulfilling but going to teach in Vietnam ignited important human and professional qualities that make Dr Molter so special. The Molters are enthusiastic and talented teachers who believe that young optometry students need to be educated to the highest quality level possible. The Molters’ commitment to teaching in Vietnam extended over four academic years, period in which they managed to inspire and support a growing number of graduates. Dr Molter’s motivation to ensure students could access excellent learning and the equipment needed for that purpose led him to hand carry all instruments donated by our Technology Transfer Programme to Vietnam every time he was back in the USA. For him, his role did not end up when the academic year was over, but he continued to consider and identify whatever else was needed to ensure Vietnamese optometrists will be able to play a key role in preventing blindness and visual impairment.
This has resulted in Bob becoming an advocate to ensure talented young graduates can access master’s and in the future PhD degrees so Vietnamese optometrists can take a leadership role in the education of the future professionals. Back in the USA, he continues advising and mentoring young Vietnamese optometrists so they can follow their aspirations and achieve their potential.
Dr Molter’s enthusiasm for Vietnam and education is contagious and as member of our VOSH Corps Committee and chairman of our Ambassadors’ Programme, he is using his experience in Vietnam to promote increased transfer of knowledge and clinical expertise to all schools of optometry we work with. We are honoured to nominate him because Dr Molter represents the journey that many eye health professionals travel from operating comfortably in the clinical sphere to being able of advocating for and taking the responsibility to ensure high quality local human resources are developed and supported to create a strong culture of preventive care.