Every week, at their regular luncheon meetings, members of the Rotary Club of Halifax North West drop their loose change into a dish on the table. The money thus collected is donated to Operation Eyesight Universal, for the prevention of blindness, the restoration of eyesight and infrastructure improvement in developing communities in south Asia, parts of Africa and in Peru and Haiti.
Operation Eyesight Universal was started by Doctor Ben Gullison in 1963, as one of the first organizations to target eye health in the developing world. Based in Calgary, Canada it has since improved the lives of thousands of men, women and children. More information about the organization can be found on its website www.operationeyesight.ca
Over the past 15 years the club has contributed more than $18,000 to the cause. Examples below.
Operation Eyesight Works in Kenya
Kenya and East Africa are experiencing the harshest drought conditions in years. Support from donors like you is helping Operation Eyesight drill water wells and work with communities to manage their new water resources, bringing hope and health to once-parched areas. We thought you would be interested in learning more about the kind of impact you can have on vital water projects.
Water well floods school with kids
The school in Ongata Naado, a small village in Kenya's Maasai Mara, is bursting at the seams with a 50 per cent jump in enrolment over the past year. It's not due to a baby boom or a sudden change in attitudes to education, it's because the once-parched community finally has a safe, reliable source of abundant water.
The new water well is just one small component of an ambitious development project spearheaded by Operation Eyesight. The project's ultimate goal is to eradicate trachoma, one of the world's leading causes of unnecessary blindness, from the entire country. But along the way, unexpected benefits keep cropping up.
"At virtually every borehole we've drilled so far, communities immediately make plans to construct or enlarge a local school," says Pat Ferguson, President and CEO of Operation Eyesight.
"The impact on girls' education is especially dramatic because most had to walk many kilometres each day to fetch water for their families, leaving no time for classes. With the new well, girls' enrolment at Ongata Naado school has doubled."
Recruiting and retaining teachers in waterless African villages is notoriously difficult and sometimes impossible. Well-educated teachers know the dangers of consuming unsafe water and usually have the luxury of finding work elsewhere.
Moses Naikuni, headmaster at Ongata Naado's school, is relieved that high staff turnover is no longer an issue, especially in view of the mass influx of new students. He also recently announced plans to construct dormitories to accommodate boarding students from more distant communities that lack school facilities.
Operation Eyesight launched the trachoma control project in Kenya's Narok District in 2007 and is implementing the World Health Organization's full SAFE strategy to eliminate trachoma. SAFE includes Surgery to treat trichiasis (the late stage of the disease), Antibiotics to eliminate infection, Face washing and hygiene promotion, and Environmental change including wells and latrines to prevent re-infection.
With 33 deep water wells drilled and two water pans currently under construction, Operation Eyesight is developing more safe water sources at a faster pace than any other organization in Kenya. The Kenyan government is committed to the project and several of its ministries are working in close partnership with Operation Eyesight to plan, implement and ensure sustainability of the project.
Kenya and much of East Africa are currently in the midst of one of the worst droughts in about 50 years. The unreliability of seasonal rains makes it even more essential for people to have access to permanent water sources, reducing the need for seasonal migration and making it possible to irrigate nutritious crops.
"The water table throughout Narok District is extremely deep, making these wells very expensive to drill," says Ferguson. "It's one reason so little progress has been made in the past. But the long-lasting and far-reaching benefits for these communities more than outweigh the cost."
"With the support of generous donors, we're not only preventing blindness, we're helping people permanently move from hardship and poverty to health and prosperity."
An eye witness report from Narok by Jared Anekeyah
Water Resources Management Authority, Narok, Kenya
The drought situation in Narok is worsening by the day. Most of the water sources have dried up save for the two major rivers of Mara and Ewaso Nyiro. All water pans that are normally the main source of water for the Maasai people have dried up.
The over 20 operational wells (made possible by Operation Eyesight) have made a very big impact on these communities. For example, Ongata Naado borehole is being used to irrigate 26 acres of maize and beans and two acres of vegetables. This has been able to supplements the school feeding programme at the school and the surplus vegetables are sold to the local community around there.
In general, the presence of wells has saved women, children, and young and weak livestock from moving around with the rest of the family and the other animals in search of water and pasture.
There are many ways to give the gift of sight. To learn more about donating securities visit www.operationeyesight.com or call 1-800-585-8265 ext. 1
St. Joseph's Hospital
Supported by Rotary Club of Halifax Northwest
St. Joseph's Hospital is located in Kothamangalam, Kerala, India. Kothamangalam is a small town lying at the foothills of the Western Ghats and is referred to as The Gateway to the High Ranges.
The state of Kerala has a population of almost 30 million, out of which almost 25 million live in rural areas. Kerala is on the southernmost tip of India. It stretches along the coast of the Arabian Sea and is separated from the rest of the subcontinent by the steep Western Ghats.
Agriculture constitutes the most important segment of the district's economy and it is the biggest source of employment. About 70% of the geographical area is under cultivation. Rice, coconut, lemongrass, rubber, pepper, ginger, mango, cashew nut etc. are the most important agricultural produce of the district. After harvest, fish are raised in pools in the fields, which is more profitable.
St. Joseph's Hospital has been in partnership with Operation Eyesight Universal since 1983 and is a secondary eye care centre. The hospital provides services that can include comprehensive eye exams; surgical consulting; refraction and prescription of glasses and contact lenses; cataract surgery with intra ocular lens implantation (IOL); glaucoma diagnosis, treatment and surgery; and community ophthalmology services that can include school screenings, community outreach clinics and awareness generation programs.
With the help of generous donors like you St. Joseph's Hospital was able to provide much needed medical care to the people residing in and around Kothamangalam. In 2008 over 9,460 patients were examined and treated at St. Joseph's Hospital and 616 cataract surgeries were performed. Community outreach clinics reached an additional 1,980 patients.
Many patients who require surgery to correct their vision come to the hospital by having their eyes screened at a school screening or an outreach clinic. School screenings and outreach clinics involve screening for visual acuity, refractions, screening and treatment of other common eye diseases and referral to hospitals for further treatment. The St. Joseph's screening team may consist of an ophthalmologist, optometrists, ophthalmic assistants, a pharmacist, nursing staff and a social worker. Once patients are registered at the outreach clinic they are sent to an optometrist who will screen the patient's visual acuity. The visual acuity test is used to determine the smallest letters a person can read on a standardized chart or card held 14-20 feet away. After testing the individual's visual acuity the patient is sent to the ophthalmologist for an eye exam. During the eye exam the ophthalmologist will be looking for eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, corneal ulcers and glaucoma. The ophthalmologist can also prescribe medications for minor eye ailments and will refer the patients who require advance treatment to St. Joseph's Hospital. At the hospital the referred patients will undergo further evaluation and treatment, which may include surgery.
Once the patient reaches the hospital preoperative eye examinations are conducted by the ophthalmologist. These examinations can include vision tests, refraction, retinoscopy, Ascan exam, eye swab test, blood investigations and a slit lamp exam. After the preoperative exams are complete the individual is admitted into the hospital ward. Usually the eye surgery is carried out the next day and on the third day if the patient is recovering well he or she can be discharged.
An outeach clinic was held at Kavalangadu in the Ernakulam district. The clinic was organized with the help of the State Bank of India and a total of 79 people were screened (28 adult males, 46 adult females and 5 children). 48 patients were found to have refractive errors and were prescribed eye glasses. A total of 12 individuals were referred to the hospital for further treatment were 9 underwent cataract surgery
Thank you for supporting St. Joseph's Hospital and for helping the people who are threatened by blindness.
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