A female patient having an eye test.
LONDON - Having spent a difficult fifteen or so days walking 192 miles across England last summer in aid of ORBIS International, the eyesight charity, I was very keen to see where the almost £760,000 we have raised to date went.
Together with my two sons, I travelled to Ethiopia recently. We spent five days in this beautiful country and saw at first hand the work that ORBIS undertakes to combat preventable blindness. To witness the personal stories behind the operations they conduct brings home the importance of their work and the amount they still have to complete.
Myself and my two sons at a rural eye care centre in Ethiopia.
One particular moment stays with me – a lady aged 80 who had travelled some 100 kilometres seeking help for the complete blindness she had endured for the last six years.
Under the attention of an ORBIS trained Ethiopian doctor she received two cataract operations – the work of some 20 minutes – and had her sight completely restored. It was one of numerous procedures we saw treating everything from glaucoma and trachoma to cataracts and childhood blindness – all of which had a completely transformative effect on the lives of the sufferers.
A female patient with cataracts at a rural eye care centre in Ethiopia.
However, of the 85 million people in Ethiopia, four million are blind or partially blind – and of that four million 80 percent, or 3.2 million people, have conditions that can be cured by relatively simple operations.
This combined with the limited equipment available to the doctors there, has made me come back more determined than ever to continue working with ORBIS to expand their valuable work. It is crucial that donations continue and in the coming year I will be doing my utmost to raise more money for them – the coast-to-coast walk was nothing more than a first step.