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Beyond the gift of sight

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Adi Laxmi is desperately poor and totally blind from macular dystrophy of the cornea in both eyes. Her husband is missing an arm, amputated after sustaining massive injuries from an electrical shock, and is unable to work. Her young daughter has had to leave school and care of her parents, doing what she can to earn a living in one of the most impoverished rural areas of southern India, a small town called Garivadi.

But confusion and fear has now turned to joy, after two free corneal transplant operations funded by Vision Beyond AUS (VBA). Adi can now work to support her family and her daughter has returned to school. As a family, their lives have been transformed.

In rural southern India, VBA performed free eye surgery on a blind man with leprosy. Ostracised by his family because of his illness, once blinded by cataracts he became a total pariah. He somehow made his way to the VBA clinic, carrying his life’s possessions in a small yellow bag clutched in his hand. He now has his sight.

In a small village in Myanmar, a little boy with a tumour in one eye was operated upon. The eye was lost, but his life was saved. His brother also had his sight in one eye restored.

These small miracles happen every day in VBA clinics.

Launched in 2011 as a project of The Rotary Club of Sydney, NSW, VBA is now an Australian-registered charity that provides free eye surgery and clinical care to restore the sight of the impoverished and disadvantaged of the world. Founded by Indy Singh, a long-standing member of the Rotary Club of Sydney, the charity now operates independently. VBA still receives support from the Rotary Club of Sydney and hopes to secure support from other Rotary clubs where Indy has spoken about VBA’s work.

Working predominantly with local surgeons and medical practitioners, VBA currently supports free eye surgery at seven clinics in India, Nepal, Myanmar and Cambodia. They help only the most disadvantaged and impoverished in their communities who might not otherwise receive such care; many of them children under the age of 10. A project to screen 10,000 schoolchildren in rural Nepalese villages and provide them with free spectacles or surgery if required has recently begun.

Globally there are over 100 million people suffering from cataract blindness and this number is projected to double in the next 20 years. VBA has already restored the sight of nearly 6000 people since late 2011 and aims to restore the sight of 100,000 of the world’s most desperately disadvantaged people … and then keep going! They know that despite the enormity of the challenge, every surgery is a life changed.

For around $30 you can save someone’s sight and give them hope. Talk to your club about supporting VBA.

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