Campaign SightFirst II Funds in Action Have you made a difference in the world of sight? If you or your club donated to Campaign SightFirst II, the answer is a resounding yes! Many personal stories of people helped by Lions through Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) involve the diminishment or loss of sight, fear and dependence on others. Then Lions help through an LCIF grant. Sight is restored or improved, fear is gone and freedom is regained. This is exactly what happened to Gomez Patricio, a cataract patient in Argentina. “Before the operation, my head was always hurting. I felt bad because I could not see. I was scared of falling down,” Patricio says. “The surgery changed my life. Now I see well from far away, and I do not fear that I will fall like before. I am very grateful for Lions.” As the flagship blindness prevention program of LCIF, SightFirst has helped improve or restore sight for more than 30 million people around the world since 1990. This has been done through training eye care professionals, delivering services and improving facilities. Campaign SightFirst II (CSFII) was launched in 2005, raising more than $200 million for SightFirst thanks to the efforts of nearly 8,000 volunteers and generous contributions from individuals, clubs and districts worldwide. With funds from CSFII, Lions continue to help control and eliminate avoidable blindness including cataract, trachoma and onchocerciasis (“river blindness”) while combating other threats to vision such as childhood blindness, diabetic retinopathy and uncorrected refractive error. For the first time, SightFirst will address threats to vision by supporting education and rehabilitation for those who are blind and have low vision, as well as vital public health research. Lions’ donations have helped millions of people like Patricio regain their lives. A donation gives low vision services to children in Kansas. It provides sight to Piyadasa Hewavithana in Sri Lanka. It helps Jelbert overcome vision problems so he can participate in school in the Philippines, and it does so much more. Low Vision Initiative In Kansas, a largely rural state, many children must travel far if they need an eye exam. The distance to eye health providers can be an obstacle. Even if a family is close to a city, they may not be able to afford the pediatric eye care that is currently available. This is where Lions step in. A statewide low vision program for children is being strengthened by the Kansas Lions Sight Foundation, the Kansas State School for the Blind and individual providers of the Kansas Optometric Association. With SightFirst support, the low vision program will serve more than 400 children and educate 1,400 key community stakeholders about low vision needs by next year. “Kansas Lions are honored and excited to be the recipient of the first SightFirst low vision grant in the United States. We’ve been actively involved in vision screening events for years; this project takes us to a new level of involvement,” says Lion Beverly Nichols. The $71,000 grant will equip 10 regional clinics and a mobile outreach program, reaching children in rural parts of Kansas. It will also create training and public education activities. Establishing a low vision device lending library will benefit the students and school districts of Kansas. “The recent SightFirst grant from LCIF will immediately benefit visually impaired students throughout Kansas,” says Dr. Kendall Krug, a participating optometrist. “In a state with a largely scattered, rural population, providing quality low vision services using the outdated centralized approach was not effective. With support from Kansas Lions and this grant, we are assured the continuation of this vital program.” Cataract Surgeries In Sri Lanka, Piyadasa Hewavithana is one of thousands who have Lions to thank for regained sight through cataract surgery. Once nearly blind, he now enjoys reading the newspaper and works again. “My sincere thanks to the doctor and staff of the Lions Hospital for providing free vision for poor people who would otherwise go blind. I have a new life,” says Hewavithana. LCIF has given more than $1 million in grants for sight-related projects in Sri Lanka. In addition to surgeries, eye care wings were constructed or upgraded at seven government hospitals and three Lions eye hospitals received infrastructure development, human resource training and cataract subsidies. Lions continue SightFirst projects in Sri Lanka by working with partners to build eye care systems in more regions of the country. This includes addressing cataract surgical backlogs. A newly-constructed Lions eye hospital in Ratnapura, financed through a SightFirst grant and a generous donation by the Lions of Finland and their government, will address even more eye care needs. Through these efforts, Lions are able to help even more people in Sri Lanka regain their sight. Education in the Philippines Jelbert, a visually disabled child who has congenital cataract, was referred to the Resources for the Blind, Inc. (RBI)-Davao Medical Coordinators for cataract surgery. When he first arrived, he could not participate in preschool activities because he lacked communication and play skills. While awaiting surgery, he was enrolled in RBI’s Early Intervention and Rehabilitation Program to develop motor, cognitive and communication skills. The Philippines needs educational services for children who are blind with additional disabilities. LCIF and Sight- First are joining with the Perkins School for the Blind to ensure all children like Jelbert have the opportunity to attend school. The Philippines project is the first SightFirst grant awarded for education and rehabilitation. Through expanding educational opportunities and empowering parents as advocates for their children, the SightFirst Philippines project is laying a foundation for broader social inclusion. When communities witness what children with disabilities can achieve when they are given the opportunity to attend school, stigmas and discrimination will begin to dissolve. Jelbert is now learning pre-speech and communication skills and improving his playing skills. Because of this, Jelbert is now participating in group activities at school. In addition to these examples, CSFII funds have been approved for many other projects including support for refractive error centers in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Philippines and the United States. CSFII achievements also include 881,557 cataract surgeries, 5,230 diabetic retinopathy treatments, 147,057 trachoma surgeries and 37,141,374 onchocerciasis (river blindness) treatments. Lions’ donations to CSFII have had a lasting impact on sight around the world. The expansion of SightFirst into new areas such as education and rehabilitation for the blind ensures that the program continues to benefit people in need worldwide. Thank you for your support.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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