Grey Mist Lifting

A Weekly Blog About Lives Changed Through Eye Care

If your ears were ringing on June 23, it was probably because we were talking about you, our incredible donors, all evening at our “Halfway to Christmas Party” and Annual General Meeting. (And if you were in Calgary, it may have been because you could hear the Christmas handbells a-ringing.)

Thank you to everyone who joined us on a warm summer’s evening for presentations, celebration and, of course, turkey dinner. Nearly 100 donors, volunteers, staff and friends of Operation Eyesight were in attendance – and our many supporters from across the globe were with us in spirit – as we celebrated the amazing work made possible by all of our donors in 2015. (Read our Report to Donors for 2015 highlights.)

We’re especially grateful for our generous sponsors who made our “Halfway to Christmas Party” possible:

  • Active Accounting;
  • Data Communications Management;
  • EBI Group Benefits Inc.;
  • Greg McKernan Graphic Design;
  • ICICI Bank of India;
  • Marketwired;
  • MNP LLP;
  • Servantage;
  • Sure Systems;
  • Topline Printing;
  • Western Union Business Solutions; and
  • Two anonymous Santa Clauses.
The evening kicked off with entertainment from the Vintage Bronze Handbells group from the First Baptist Church of Calgary, where Operation Eyesight was founded 53 years ago. We were very lucky to have members of the church join us, many of whom worked or volunteered for Operation Eyesight during the early days. Thank you for helping us spread some Christmas cheer!

The evening kicked off with entertainment from the Vintage Bronze Handbells group from the First Baptist Church of Calgary, where Operation Eyesight was founded 53 years ago. We were very lucky to have members of the church join us, many of whom worked or volunteered for Operation Eyesight during the early days. Thank you for helping us spread some Christmas cheer!

From left to right: Tom, Linda, Arleigh and Bill.

We were honoured to have the children of Art and Una Jenkyns with us to celebrate the sight-saving work that Art began in 1963. Art and Una are fondly remembered by us all, and their legacies will live on for generations to come. From left to right: Tom, Linda, Arleigh and Bill.

What a great looking bunch! We’re so thankful for our volunteer board directors who provide strategic direction for our organization and help us fulfill our mission and vision. From left to right: Dan Parlow, Ray Mowling, Doreen Richards, Lorie Gibson, Dr. Mary Alton Mackey and Rob Ohlson.

What a great looking bunch! We’re so thankful for our volunteer board directors who provide strategic direction for our organization and help us fulfill our mission and vision. From left to right: Dan Parlow, Ray Mowling, Doreen Richards, Lorie Gibson, Dr. Mary Alton Mackey and Rob Ohlson.

Thank you and merry Christmas, from all of us at Operation Eyesight! This year, we were lucky to have Kashinath Bhoosnurmath (far left) with us in person. Kash is our Global Director of Programmes, based out of Hyderabad, India. We all enjoyed his special presentation on Vision Centre-Based Community Eye Care.

Thank you and merry Christmas, from all of us at Operation Eyesight! This year, we were lucky to have Kashinath Bhoosnurmath (far left) with us in person. Kash is our Global Director of Programmes, based out of Hyderabad, India. We all enjoyed his special presentation on Vision Centre-Based Community Eye Care.

For those of you who haven’t met me (Brian Foster) in person, I’m a bit of a hugger. I’m sending virtual hugs out to all of our donors!

For those of you who haven’t met me (Brian Foster) in person, I’m a bit of a hugger. I’m sending virtual hugs out to all of our donors!

We would like to thank all of our friends and supporters – in Canada and across the world – for making every day feel like Christmas. On behalf of all of us at Operation Eyesight, thank you for helping us keep the spirit of giving going all year round!

[Special thanks to Laura Douglas for the great photos!]

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Last week we highlighted our work in India. This week, we’re excited to tell you about the great work our donors made possible in Ghana in 2015. For more 2015 highlights, you can read our newly-released Report to Donors. And be sure check back here for more updates on Kenya and Zambia in the coming weeks. 

 After receiving cataract surgery to restore her sight, Janet was able to return to her job at a salt mine in Ghana. “I never thought I’d be able to see clearly again,” she says. “Thank you to the doctor and all the Operation Eyesight donors who are helping the poor and needy!”

After receiving cataract surgery to restore her sight, Janet was able to return to her job at a salt mine in Ghana. “I never thought I’d be able to see clearly again,” she says. “Thank you to the doctor and all the Operation Eyesight donors who are helping the poor and needy!”

In addition to supporting over 8,000 eye surgeries, building capacity was a large part of our work in Ghana in 2015. We helped provide professional development opportunities and eye health training to over 800 health care workers, and organized workshops to train ophthalmic nurses to work with hospital equipment.

We also formed a partnership with the Himalayan Cataract Project, an American eye health INGO. This collaboration has already helped strengthen Operation Eyesight operations in Ghana and reduced our project cost by providing surgical equipment and consumables to supplement what we already had.

Thanks to funding from our partner Seeing is Believing, our staff worked with a local communications agency to develop print advertisements and television commercials that build awareness of avoidable blindness. (Click here to watch our cataract awareness commercial.) Along with public meetings, these awareness campaigns have already encouraged numerous people living in our target districts to seek eye health services. Due in large part to increased public awareness, our team noted an increase in eye surgeries in our operational areas during 2015.

Our Impact in GhanaThank you to our donors for making this sight-saving work possible! To ensure our work in countries like Ghana continues, please consider making a gift through our online Gift Guide. Every gift, no matter the size, can make an incredible difference in the lives of others!

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Inesh (left), a teacher in India, is happy to be back at work after one of his former students referred him for cataract surgery.

Inesh (left), a teacher in India, is happy to be back at work after one of his former students referred him for cataract surgery.

Thanks to our generous donors, we’re making long-term, sustainable differences in the countries where we work. We recently published our 2015 Report to Donors, and we’re very excited to tell you about the incredible work our donors helped make possible last year.

This week, we’ll highlight our work in India. Stay tuned for more updates on Ghana, Kenya and Zambia in the weeks to come!

Our India programs were well-established for 52 years in 2015, and over the course of the year, they continued to expand significantly in terms of partners, projects and results. We partnered with 55 eye hospitals across 15 states, and became the only INGO to work in India’s remote state of Jammu and Kashmir.

We re-launched our work in Bihar, another region with a high prevalence of blindness; and we also launched our first community-based rehabilitation project in the slums of Bangalore.

We expanded our community eye health projects to 42, and in collaboration with our partners, declared our 50th village in India as avoidable blindness-free. By the end of 2015, a total of 66 villages were confirmed free of avoidable blindness!

We also launched a new approach calledParticipatory Approach to Community Eye Health” in all our Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Programs to involve the community in all aspects of our projects.

Thanks to support from the Edmonton Public Teachers’ Charity Trust Fund, we developed an operational manual for our Vision Centres, an innovative concept that continues to gain traction in all our countries of intervention. Our 71 Vision Centres are spread across 42 districts in India, bringing quality and sustainable eye care to the communities we serve. A full 75 percent of our Vision Centres are financially self-sustaining.

One of the year’s major highlights occurred in September, when we were proud to inaugurate the Operation Eyesight Universal Institute for Eye Cancer. Located within the renowned L V Prasad Eye Institute, this centre of excellence for eye cancers will serve not only India but other countries in Southeast Asia. With the support of a generous Canadian donor family, we’ll be able to provide quality, comprehensive cancer treatment for children and adults at low or no cost to them. Thanks to our donors, the Institute will save countless lives with its early detection and integrated treatment programs.

And last but certainly not least, after being established as an Indian fundraising entity in 2014, our team began fundraising efforts with local donors and corporations in 2015.

We were fortunate to confirm financial support from Pellucid Inc. to equip 50 of our Vision Centres with computer technology, and we received 16,600 eyeglass lenses from Essilor Vision Foundation to be distributed through our community eye health projects to those who cannot afford them. We look forward to significant growth in local fundraising during the 2016 year!

Compared to the previous year, our results for 2015 are particularly dramatic: 100 percent increase in surgeries performed; 50 percent increase in screenings; 60 percent increase in primary health care services; and 100 percent increase in health education over 2014. And it’s all thanks to our amazing donors!

Compared to the previous year, our results for 2015 are particularly dramatic: 100 percent increase in surgeries performed; 50 percent increase in screenings; 60 percent increase in primary health care services; and 100 percent increase in health education over 2014. And it’s all thanks to our amazing donors!

To read our full 2015 Report to Donors, click here. To help us give the gift of sight to even more people in 2016, please make a donation. As always, thank you for your support!

It’s true, many hands make light work – and we’re incredibly grateful for the many volunteer hands in our Calgary office. We currently have 18 office volunteers who help us with various projects on a weekly basis. They do everything from folding tax receipts to producing videos, approaching each task with a fun, can-do attitude.

In 2015, volunteers personally called 1,700 donors and hand-wrote over 1,500 “thank you” cards! Because of them, we’re able to reach out to you, our donors, more often and manage administrative tasks more effectively than would otherwise be possible. This means that ultimately we’re able to bring in more dollars for our cause and give the gift of sight to more people in need.

A heartfelt thank you, volunteers, for donating your time and talent to Operation Eyesight. Together, we’re doing great things – for all the world to see!

From left to right: volunteers Donna, Mona, Dianne and Claudia.

From left to right: volunteers Donna, Mona, Dianne and Claudia.

From left to right: volunteers Fikayo, Norma and Efosa.

From left to right: volunteers Fikayo, Norma and Efosa.

Each day, we update the chalkboard at our office in celebration of our wonderful volunteers. We’d like to thank the following office volunteers for their support over the past year: Candice, Catherine, Claudia, Dianne, Donna, Efosa, Fikayo, Gul, Julie, Laurie, Linda, Mona, Mutsumi, Norma, Shannon, Sharmilah, Shawn, Sheila, Shreya, Sylvia, Veronique, Wendy and William.

Each day, we update the chalkboard at our office in celebration of our wonderful volunteers. We’d like to thank the following office volunteers for their support over the past year: Candice, Catherine, Claudia, Dianne, Donna, Efosa, Fikayo, Gul, Julie, Laurie, Linda, Mona, Mutsumi, Norma, Shannon, Sharmilah, Shawn, Sheila, Shreya, Sylvia, Veronique, Wendy and William.

We also have many volunteers who help with various events and festivals throughout the year. Most recently, volunteers helped us spread the word about Operation Eyesight at Calgary’s Lilac Festival. Monica (left) handed out bubble gum and information, while Catherine (far right) helped Brittany (a member of our Philanthropy team) staff our photo booth.

We also have many volunteers who help with various events and festivals throughout the year. Most recently, volunteers helped us spread the word about Operation Eyesight at Calgary’s Lilac Festival. Monica (left) handed out bubble gum and information, while Catherine (far right) helped Brittany (a member of our Philanthropy team) staff our photo booth.

If you’d like to learn more about volunteer opportunities in Calgary, contact Blaire at macnicolb@operationeyesight.com.

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Atul received cataract surgery and a brand new pair of prescription eyeglasses, all thanks to our incredible donors! Thank you!

Atul received cataract surgery and a brand new pair of prescription eyeglasses, all thanks to our incredible donors! Thank you!

Atul and his family live in a semi-permanent home in Jogyal, a remote village located in the drought-prone district of Latur, India.

When he was eight years old, one of Atul’s classmates accidently hit him in the eye with a pencil. He felt pain right away, but then things seemed to get better… for a while.

Thinking his injury was normal, his parents saw no need to seek medical attention. Slowly, Atul’s vision began to blur. Soon, he couldn’t see out of his one eye. It was then that his parents took him to a private eye hospital.

The doctor explained that Atul had developed a mature cataract and needed surgery. His parents were frightened – more by the cost of treatment than the diagnosis. The cataract surgery would cost 25,000 Indian rupees ($487 CAD), which they certainly couldn’t afford.

Instead, they took Atul to an optical shop for a pair of eyeglasses. The glasses seemed to help initially, but they weren’t the treatment Atul so desperately needed to restore his sight.

For six years, Atul lived with a cataract in one eye, which worsened over time. “It was a tough time for me,” he says. “I thought I would go blind and wouldn’t live long.”

He had difficulties studying and reading the chalkboard at school, but he didn’t dare tell his friends or teachers. What if they made fun of him?

Atul suffered silently. His grades began to fall, and he started skipping school.

“I used to love going to school and meeting my friends,” he explains. “I was popular in my class and teachers liked me, but then I started performing poorly on exams and my teachers scolded me. I couldn’t play cricket or other sports with my friends, and my parents lost confidence in me.”

Luckily, Atul’s village was selected to be part of a Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Project, a partnership between Operation Eyesight and Udaygiri Lions Eye Hospital in the nearby town of Udgir. During a door-to-door survey, a community health worker discovered Atul had poor vision. A short time later, an optometrist visited the village and confirmed Atul’s diagnosis.

After much counselling from the optometrist, community health workers, village leaders and his teachers, Atul agreed to go to the hospital for cataract surgery. Thanks to Operation Eyesight’s generous donors, he finally received the treatment he needed – all at no cost to his family. He also received a free new pair of prescription eyeglasses.

Atul says he’s grateful for all of the support he received from his family and community. From left to right: Atul’s grandmother, Atul’s mother, Atul and two community health workers.

Atul says he’s grateful for all of the support he received from his family and community. From left to right: Atul’s grandmother, Atul’s mother, Atul and two community health workers.

“I can now go to school, play with my friends and concentrate on my studies,” he says. “My parents are happy with me. I can fulfil my dreams now!”

Atul, now 14 years old, aspires to help others overcome their fear of eye surgery so they don’t have to suffer like he did for so many years.

“I’m deeply indebted to all those who never gave up on me,” he says. “They visited me continuously for a week, spoke to village leaders and school teachers, and motivated me to go to the hospital. The community health worker and eye doctor even visited me after the surgery. I’m so thankful!”

Because of our amazing donors, Atul can now enjoy all of the things a teen should be able to enjoy! You can help more teens like him by supporting our community outreach programs. Please donate today.

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: Last year, Operation Eyesight conducted an eye screening at Lukhuna Primary School in Kenya. Thanks to the screening, Deborah (left) and Claries (right) each received a pair of brand new prescription eyeglasses. Today, they’re happy, studious teenagers – and it’s all because of generous donors like you!

Last year, Operation Eyesight conducted an eye screening at Lukhuna Primary School in Kenya. Thanks to the screening, Deborah (left) and Claries (right) each received a pair of brand new prescription eyeglasses. Today, they’re happy, studious teenagers – and it’s all because of generous donors like you!

I can’t believe it’s almost June already! I remember when my kids were still in school, they’d be getting pretty antsy around this time. They just wanted to be outside enjoying the nicer weather, and most of their after-school activities were starting to wind down.

I also remember running around trying to find that perfect end-of-the-year gift for their teachers. What do you get for the people who have dedicated so much of their time and energy to the betterment of your children? They probably have more than enough apple-themed knickknacks, and a person can only eat so much chocolate or drink so many cups of coffee.

And then there were the other caring adults in my children’s lives, like their scout leaders, coaches and piano instructor. I wanted to show them my appreciation, too. Fortunately, I found a unique and truly meaningful way to recognize these special adults: with a tribute gift.

A tribute gift is when you make a donation in someone else’s name – and it’s a great way to say “thank you” to a teacher or coach, while at the same time making a difference in the lives of those living in developing countries.

Your $20 donation can provide prescription eyeglasses for up to three children living in Africa or Southeast Asia. Your gift of $35 can help provide primary eye care training for teachers and others in the local community, so they can identify those with eye health issues and refer them for appropriate eye care.

When you make a tribute gift to Operation Eyesight, you can choose to send an eCard directly to the recipient. Or, you can request to have a beautiful greeting card mailed to your home so your child can give it to the recipient in person.

Imagine the look on their teacher’s face when she or he learns that they’ve given the gift of sight to someone living halfway across the world! Imagine how honoured their coach will be to know that he or she is truly making a difference in the lives of others, near and far.

Browse our online Gift Guide today and give the gift that gives twice! Thank you for your support – and happy June!

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Like many developing countries, Ghana faces inadequate access to eye health services, which is why we’ve been working there since 2006. Our Ghana team knows that many people are fearful of accessing eye health care because of lack of awareness, poor service, distance, affordability and long wait times.

Thanks to funding from our partner Seeing is Believing, our staff worked with a local communications agency to develop print advertisements and television commercials (see samples below) that build awareness of avoidable blindness.

The ads encourage Ghanaians to treat blindness as an enemy – being fearful of it because it can destroy their livelihood, while being grateful that there is help available to effectively combat avoidable blindness. Good news: our team has noted an increase in eye surgeries in the areas where the ads are running!

One of our four print advertisements running in Ghana.

One of our four print advertisements running in Ghana.

Awareness-building is vital to all of our community eye health programs. Please help us reach more people by donating to our outreach programs today. Thank you for your support!

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We first told you about Majuli Island back in Spring 2014. Located in India’s remote state of Assam, it’s home to 168,000 people. Before Operation Eyesight launched a Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Program there in 2012, the island had no eye care at all.

Thanks to a video documentary created by our Canadian intern Adrian Parlow, you can check in on our community health workers, hospital partner and the people of Majuli and see how we’re doing!

Operation Eyesight’s hospital partner for Majuli is Chandraprabha Eye Hospital, located in Jorhat, Assam. Established in 2005, the hospital was our first Non-Financial Technical Partnership. It’s now one of the most reputable hospitals in the region, houses two prestigious training schools and performs 4,200 surgeries annually.

Together, Operation Eyesight and Chandraprabha set out to eliminate avoidable blindness on Majuli Island. When our locally-hired community health workers began a comprehensive survey, they found that gender discrimination, vitamin A deficiency, poor sanitation, malnutrition and other issues all compounded the lack of eye health care.

Based on the survey, the project team and hospital management developed plans to tackle cataracts, blindness and other eye problems. To date, almost 3,800 people from the island have undergone surgery to restore their sight, over 5,000 pairs of eyeglasses have been dispensed and 83,500 people have attended health education workshops. Immunization of children under five and coverage of antenatal and postnatal care have all reached 85 percent.

In 2015, we were able to declare a total of 21 avoidable blindness-free villages on Majuli! Although there is much more to do, none of this work would be possible without our amazing donors. Thanks to donor support, people in places like Majuli Island no longer have to live in darkness; they have been given the gift of sight!

Watch Adrian’s full 30-minute documentary here. Thanks to Adrian for helping us see the impact of this important project!

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Last fall, world leaders adopted the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). All of us in the eye health community have an important role to play in achieving these global goals, particularly Goals 1 through 6. Read on to learn how Operation Eyesight’s work to eliminate avoidable blindness is helping transform the world.

Subhas climbing a date tree

SDG #1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere. About 90 percent of the world’s visually impaired live in low-income settings. If people can’t see, they can’t work to earn a living. By preventing blindness and restoring sight, we’re helping people keep their jobs or return to work. The more people we help, the more communities thrive and the closer we are to breaking the cycle of poverty.

We’re also helping the world end poverty through our work to eliminate the eye disease trachoma. Those blinded by trachoma get trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty, which in turn can destroy the economic well-being of entire communities. It’s estimated that, globally, trachoma results in US$2.9 billion in lost productivity per year. Fortunately, we’re implementing a strategy in Zambia and Kenya that’s proven effective in eliminating trachoma. Click here to learn more.

We’re also helping the world end poverty through our work to eliminate the eye disease trachoma. Those blinded by trachoma get trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty, which in turn can destroy the economic well-being of entire communities. It’s estimated that, globally, trachoma results in US$2.9 billion in lost productivity per year. Fortunately, we’re implementing a strategy in Zambia and Kenya that’s proven effective in eliminating trachoma. Click here to learn more.

SDG #2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. Did you know that malnutrition contributes to avoidable blindness? We’re particularly concerned with vitamin A deficiency, especially in children. Up to 500,000 children go blind each year as a result of this condition. Sadly, half of those children die within 12 months of going blind. We’re working to distribute vitamin A supplements to those in need. Learn more here.

SDG #3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Our programs are designed to provide quality eye care to all, regardless of age, gender or ability to pay. Through our Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Program, local community health workers are trained to conduct door-to-door surveys, identify eye health issues, refer patients for treatment, and educate the community on eye health and general health. As a result, we’re able to provide eye care to those who would otherwise go unreached, and communities become healthier and stronger.

SDG #3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
Our programs are designed to provide quality eye care to all, regardless of age, gender or ability to pay. Through our Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Program, local community health workers are trained to conduct door-to-door surveys, identify eye health issues, refer patients for treatment, and educate the community on eye health and general health. As a result, we’re able to provide eye care to those who would otherwise go unreached, and communities become healthier and stronger.

#4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong opportunities for all. When children can see, they can read and go to school! Our school eye screening programs allow us to identify children who are struggling with low vision or other eye health issues. We can then provide them with the prescription eyeglasses or other treatment needed to restore their sight. We’ve even trained teachers in Kenya to use a smartphone app to test their students’ vision. Learn more here.

#4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong opportunities for all.
When children can see, they can read and go to school! Our school eye screening programs allow us to identify children who are struggling with low vision or other eye health issues. We can then provide them with the prescription eyeglasses or other treatment needed to restore their sight. We’ve even trained teachers in Kenya to use a smartphone app to test their students’ vision. Learn more here.

Thank you!

Another way we’re helping children get a quality education is by providing communities with fresh, safe water through our trachoma programs (see SDG #6 below). Clean water is scarce in many rural communities in Zambia and Kenya. Children, typically girls, are tasked with fetching water for their families, often having to walk several kilometres to the nearest source. By providing villages with a safe water source nearby, we allow children to spend their time in school rather than fetching water. Even better, a dependable water source often attracts teachers and encourages communities to build new schools!

SDG #5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Our programs in India and Africa are designed to involve both men and women. In fact, almost all of the community health workers we’ve trained in India are female. We empower women to find solutions to their eye care needs and develop eye health programs that will benefit their entire community. In addition, by eliminating the threat of blindness, we improve a woman’s ability to become an active participant in her community and contribute to her family’s socioeconomic stability.

SDG #5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
Our programs in India and Africa are designed to involve both men and women. In fact, almost all of the community health workers we’ve trained in India are female. We empower women to find solutions to their eye care needs and develop eye health programs that will benefit their entire community. In addition, by eliminating the threat of blindness, we improve a woman’s ability to become an active participant in her community and contribute to her family’s socioeconomic stability.

Clean water and proper hygiene help prevent the spread of trachoma, which otherwise spreads easily through contact with eye discharge from infected people’s hands, towels and clothing, and through direct transmission by flies. Fresh water and sanitation also dramatically improve the general health and prosperity of the whole community.

SDG #6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Providing communities with fresh water is an important part of our work to prevent blindness. In Kenya and Zambia, we develop wells and boreholes and educate communities on the importance of hygiene. With fresh water to wash their hands, faces and clothing, people are able to prevent the spread of the bacterial infection that causes blinding trachoma. Even better, improved sanitation aids in the reduction of other serious illnesses such as diarrheal disease, upper-respiratory infections and malaria. Learn more about our trachoma projects here.

Together with our donors, we’re helping the world reach its goals to end poverty, promote healthy living and ensure prosperity for everyone. With your ongoing support, we’ll continue our work to eliminate avoidable blindness, contributing to a sustainable future for us all. Thank you!

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Shakila is happy that she can see again! She’s had cataract surgery on one eye and plans to have the other eye operated on soon.

Shakila is happy that she can see again! She’s had cataract surgery on one eye and plans to have the other eye operated on soon.

Shakila, 52, lives in Bhopal, India. A widow, she works hard to support her two daughters as best she can through a variety of small jobs. She washes dishes and helps local farmers at the market by cleaning wheat and rice or grooming animals.

But these tasks became extremely difficult when her vision started to blur due to cataract in both eyes. As the cataracts matured, she became almost completely blind. In the late evenings on her way home from the market, she couldn’t see anything at all; she’d often fall down in the street several times as she slowly made her way through the darkness.

Eventually she couldn’t even clean crops at the market anymore, losing her family’s last source of income. Sadly, she suffered like this for five years, having neither the time nor the money to seek treatment.

Fortunately, help came to her when our partner hospital in Bhopal, Aman Advanced Eye Hospital (AAEH), implemented its Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Program, which was developed by Operation Eyesight to help hospitals like AAEH reach more people in need of eye care.

The first stage of this program involves a door-to-door survey of every household in the target area. Community health workers, who live and work in the local community, screen residents for eye problems, educate them on the importance of eye health, and encourage them to use local health care services.

When Nagma, a community health worker, arrived at Shakila’s door and discovered her condition, she empathized with her and made it her mission to ensure Shakila got the treatment she needed.

While some hospitals in India offer free, government-sponsored cataract surgeries to poor patients like Shakila, AAEH is in the ironic position of having a government hospital nearby, so it’s ineligible to receive government subsidy. To make matters worse, the government’s facilities are severely lacking and provide only a few free surgeries per month, meaning the majority of poor patients go untreated.

Thanks to Operation Eyesight-trained community health workers, patients like Shakila (centre) can be identified and referred for treatment.

Thanks to Operation Eyesight-trained community health workers, patients like Shakila (centre) can be identified and referred for treatment.

In Shakila’s case, it was Nagma’s close relationship with the local community that allowed her to get the cataract surgery she so desperately needed. As a resident of the community herself, Nagma knew Shakila’s landlord and neighbours well, and she encouraged them to contribute the money needed to pay for one of Shakila’s operations.

Today, Shakila is a whole new person! She’s grateful to have vision in one eye again and is back at work at the market, saving up money so she can get her other eye operated on soon. With her dignity and independence restored, she’s also taking on new types of work to improve her standard of living.

Her wish is for Operation Eyesight’s hospital partners and donors to continue helping those in need. “The smallest help can have the most valuable results,” she says.  

Thanks to our generous donors, we’re able to support hospitals like AAEH and provide training for community health workers like Nagma. This means we’re able to reach patients like Shakila who would otherwise go needlessly blind. Please consider contributing to our outreach programs so we can give the gift of sight to even more people.

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