When Operation Eyesight’s founder Art Jenkyns passed away on January 26, 2005, we knew that the world had lost a rare individual. Much has changed since the first meeting of “The Gullison Club” in 1963, when Art and his fellows at the Baptist Men’s Club raised $840 in support of Dr. Ben Gullison’s Arogyavaram Hospital.
A lot has changed since Art’s passing, too. In the past 10 years, we have adapted our methods and worked to tackle the root causes of avoidable blindness.
One such example is our effort to eliminate the agonizing eye disease trachoma. In 2007, we drilled our first borehole in Kenya’s Narok district, part of a strategy to change the conditions that allow the trachoma-causing bacteria to spread. Since then, we have drilled boreholes in Kenya’s West Pokot district and Zambia’s Sinazongwe region.
Another change is that we now work more closely with our partners. Our India staff have created a model of hospital-based community eye care that provides important technical advice rather than financial support. This model was endorsed by Vision 2020 India and represents a unique way of thinking about ending avoidable blindness. It involves establishing local referral and treatment services and training local community eye health workers.
These solutions are designed to create eye health care that can be sustained without foreign financial assistance, so that the places where we work will be able to eliminate avoidable blindness once and for all.
Art Jenkyns believed that we have the means and responsibility to help people who suffer from avoidable blindness. While those means have changed, the responsibility remains, and we are so thankful that our generous donors agree that this serious health issue is a challenge that must be addressed.
We thank everyone who honours Art by making sure that his message is heard. We know that his dream of a world without avoidable blindness will one day be a reality!