World Cup winner Lionel Messi took to social media to announce he’s going to partner with assistive devices company OrCam to donate visual aids to visually impaired Ethiopians. According to BBC, visual impairment is a prevalent public health issue in the Horn of Africa nation. A study revealed 1.18% of the country’s population suffers from blindness.
Known for its visual aid technology, OrCam said its innovation enhances “the lives of individuals who are blind, visually impaired, and have reading difficulties.” But the OrCam MyEye glass costs over $4,000, making it costly for most people to purchase.
“It is a tremendous satisfaction in helping improve the lives of blind and visually impaired people,” Messi said in the Facebook video.
In 2022, the office of Ethiopia’s first lady partnered with donors to give away the company’s modern visual aid eyeglasses to 2,000 individuals. The majority of those recipients were students and government workers.
Per the office, the eyeglasses subsequently helped the recipients independently read Amharic (Ethiopia’s working language) and English texts. The frames of the eyeglasses have been installed with Artificial Intelligence technology that allows people who are visually impaired to read and pick out colors. This is made possible by the device reading them loudly to the person wearing it.
Time Magazine named the technology as one of the biggest innovations in 2019. And Messi’s announcement also comes after he captained Argentina to win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“I wanted to close my career with this, it was the one that was missing so I can no longer ask for anything else,” Messi, 35, said after their penalty shootout win against France. “I was able to get the Copa America and now the World Cup that I had fought so hard for. I’ve got it at the end of my career. But I love football and I want to continue living a few more games being world champion.”