October 11, 2014
World Sight Day 2014 fell on 9 October 2014. This year, the ‘call to action’ for World Sight Day is: ‘No more Avoidable Blindness’. This is very much the focus of John Keells Foundation’s Vision Project which is aimed at eradicating avoidable blindness due to cataract in Sri Lanka in collaboration with the Vision 2020 Secretariat of the Ministry of Health, Lions Gift of Sight hospital and ‘So Others May See’ (SOMS). The project since its inception in 2004 has recorded the completion of 7,350 cataract surgeries and donation of 2,251 pairs of eye glasses up to end of September 2014 across all provinces of the country for the benefit of disadvantaged persons.
The project which is aligned with the World Health Organization’s ‘Vision 2020’ Program, gives hope to those that had given up ever gaining their sight back. Regaining sight also enables such persons to recover their social and economic independence. One of the beneficiaries, 56-year old N. Rajalingam from Trinco said, “Being a labourer with no stable income, I’m very grateful to those who are giving me this opportunity because I wouldn’t have been able to attend an eye clinic let alone go through with a cataract surgery due to my financial difficulties.” Like all projects of JKF, the Vision Project is driven by employee volunteers and led by a project champion who is also a staff member. Group employees volunteer their services at eye camps held all over the country and enthusiastically share their sense of joy and fulfilment in serving disadvantaged members of communities.
Vindya Cooray who is attached to Walkers Tours, said after her first experience at an Eye camp that it was, “A heartwarming first time experience which was definitely worthwhile. I am blessed to be a part of an organisation that contributes to society. I will certainly be a part of many more eye camps in the future.” Another staff volunteer, Vidarshan Dabera from Elephant House said, “This being the second occasion I volunteered at an Eye Camp, did not reduce the feeling of gratefulness I had at being able to help in improving the quality of life of these people who dearly needed this support. It also made me proud to be part of an organisation like JKH which gives back to the community it operates in, so generously.” Eye camps and surgeries have been conducted in various parts of the country including Trincomalee, Kilinochchi, Nawalapitiya, Seeduwa and Elpitiya facilitating 849 cataract surgeries and donating 586 spectacles for vision impaired persons from 1 April to 30 September 2014. The Vision Project which completed ten years since its inception in 2003/04 aims to complete 1,500 cataract surgeries within this financial year. John Keells Foundation is the social responsibility entity of the John Keells Group. Guided by its vision of ‘Empowering the Nation for Tomorrow’, John Keells Foundation focuses on the key areas of Education, Health, Community/Livelihood Development, Environment and Arts and Culture comprising a portfolio of over 30 sustainable projects spread throughout the country.
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