Although Operation Eyesight is based in Canada, we have donors all over the world who support our work. I recently returned from Sydney, Australia where Operation Eyesight maintains a fundraising office. The purpose of the trip was to meet and work with Operation Eyesight Australia’s (OEA) board of directors and our staff member, outlining global strategies for fundraising in support of our programs and our mission “to eliminate avoidable blindness” in the developing world.
I found the OEA team to be energized and the board excited to expand its membership. The directors are working to identify corporations and foundations that may wish to support our programs in Africa and India. We foresee a significant increase in our Australian activities in the future.
On top of that, we met with key contacts from the international eye care community, including the Brien Holden Vision Institute, the International Centre for Eyecare Education (Australia and South Africa), Optometry Giving Sight, as well as LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India, and Vision 2020 Australia’s office in Melbourne. All members of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), they are passionate about their work and have made key contributions throughout the world in strengthening eye health systems.
As an aside, I also was pleased to meet the popular screen and TV actor, Michael Caton, who stars in “The Castle” – a must-see Australian production. Michael is a good friend to Operation Eyesight and was featured in our innovative Donate a Dunny fundraising campaign in 2010.
On a personal note, this was my first trip to this wonderful country, and it is indeed a long way from my home in Calgary. It takes over 16 hours on a direct flight out of Vancouver to reach “down under.” I went from -30° Celsius in Calgary (brrrr) to 27° Celsius when we landed in Sydney – that’s almost a 60° change in temperature, but oh, so worth it. The high humidity was a surprise, but very welcome.
Australia has a population of almost 22 million people. Sydney has over four million and reminded me of the hills of San Francisco, but with lots of traffic circles thrown in. The red terracotta roofed houses are packed in like sardines so everyone can get their view of the Pacific Ocean and the harbour. Ah, the harbour – Captain Cook must have “waxed poetic” when he first sailed in here. It takes your breath away. The shadows of the skyscrapers, the view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the beautiful Sydney Opera House sparkling in the sun all invite you to stay.
While it wasn’t easy to return to freezing temperatures in Canada, I left knowing that Operation Eyesight is in good hands in Australia. Cheers, mate!