"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime" This Chinese Proverb perfectly portrays the essence of Sight For All.
Across the world, 253 million people are vision impaired and of those 36 million are blind. A staggering 89% of these people live in low to middle income countries. The need for help is enormous and Sight For All has a well-considered mission to rid such countries of blindness through our unique and sustainable model of eye care.
As Sight For All enters its 10th Anniversary celebrations this Christmas, I find myself reflecting on some of the powerful experiences that I’ve had in Asia. In 2007, my colleagues and I travelled to Myanmar to conduct research into the causes of childhood blindness.
About 1.4 million children in the world are blind and two thirds of them live in Asia. However, what’s more alarming is that during our study in Myanmar, we found that measles was the major cause of blindness in children - an entirely avoidable disease that costs less than one dollar per child to prevent. Surrounded by precious children whose blindness could easily have been prevented deeply affected myself and the team. A solution was vital.
With an urgency for change, Sight For All collaborated with Myanmar’s health authorities to protect the eyesight of their innocent children. As a result, local ophthalmologist Dr Than Htun Aung was sent to Adelaide to undertake a year-long Paediatric Ophthalmology Fellowship at The Women’s & Children’s Hospital.
This is an early example of Sight For All’s ‘teach a man to fish’ model, providing specialised education to ophthalmologists to improve their diagnostic and surgical skills. However, this was only half the solution. It’s vital that upon return, their specialised education is matched with the latest equipment so that the doctors are self-sufficient in treating patients at the highest level. These eye units are now performing at their optimum level and delivering exciting outcomes. At Sight For All we couldn’t be happier.
The success of this training has been immense. Upon Dr Than Htun Aung’s return to Myanmar as the first paediatric ophthalmologist in the country, eye surgery for children increased 12-fold in the first year. Dr Aung now treats 20,000 children annually, however more importantly, he has been training his own colleagues to enable high quality and sustainable eye care for his country of over 54 million people.
The impact that Dr Aung’s education brings to Myanmar has been astounding and exciting. I was with him in October 2015 when I met Thagyan, a 5-year-old girl from the Ayeyarwaddy Region. Dr Aung had been treating Thagyan for retinoblastoma, a blinding eye cancer that occurs in young children, affecting one or both eyes. Thagyan fortunately had cancer in just the one eye. Her treatment involved the removal of the affected eye, followed by intensive chemotherapy and regular checks.
Through Dr Aung’s careful treatment, Thagyan was announced to be cancer free and still has perfect vision in her remaining eye.
I will never forget the look that Dr Aung and I shared, knowing that through Sight For All, his expertise saved that young girl’s sight and life.
Thagyan is now a happy, healthy 8 year old. What a privilege it is to have made such a positive impact on a young person’s destiny.
Although Dr Aung’s training was conducted here in Australia, Sight For All’s ‘teach a man to fish’ model also sends teams of specialists to many other countries to train local ophthalmologists, optometrists, nurses and health care workers to comprehensively screen, diagnose and treat all eye diseases.
To give you an example, Sight For All has now trained 11 paediatric ophthalmologists and has equipped paediatric eye units in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. This has improved eye care for tens of thousands of children across Asia.
Sight For All’s vision is to create a world where everyone can see. We draw on the goodwill of more than 130 volunteers whom we call ‘Visionaries.’ These Visionaries include ophthalmologists, optometrists, nurses, and allied eye health care workers who collectively donate 10,000 hours every year, representing about $2 million worth of expertise. This generosity of spirit is what makes Sight For All so successful and its culture of giving so impressive.
We are very proud of our work, however know that the job is far from done. We must continue to share our knowledge and build the bridges of opportunity that comes with focussed, sustainable solutions in fighting blindness.
As we fast approach Christmas, an important time of giving, we invite you to support Sight For All through ‘Gifts For Sight’.
As a ‘Gifts For Sight’ patron, you can actively assist our programs and help us to purchase the necessary diagnostic equipment and surgical instruments that are essential for quality eye care.
Finding the perfect Christmas gift can often be a challenge, especially in a world where we have so much. A Gifts For Sight donation will help us transform the lives of tens of thousands of people and is a game-changing philanthropic gesture for the disadvantaged. Why not help others see this Christmas?
Please consider making a tax-deductible Gifts For Sight donation of $50, $100, $250, $500 or $1000. We will send you our thanks with a Gifts For Sight card that you will have as a keepsake or can share with a friend or loved one as their humanitarian Christmas gift. Your Gifts For Sight donation can be made via the Sight For All website (insert address) or by using the attached form and returning it in the reply paid envelope. Alternatively, you may prefer to make a general donation for an amount of your choice to Sight For All.
““If you’re in the luckiest one percent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think of the other 99%.””– Warren Buffett
Without your generous support, our sustainable ‘teach a man to fish’ model of eye care could not continue.
Our vision of creating a world where everyone can see is an ambitious goal, however one that we know we can achieve with your help.
By making a tax-deductible Gifts For Sight donation this Christmas, you can help save the sight and lives of children, just like Thagyan.
Together we can make a difference. Please help us teach the world to see.
Dr James Muecke AM
Chairman, Sight For All
All donations of $2 or more are tax deductible – please ensure you provide us with your name and email address so we can post a receipt to you.
Make an online donation using Paypal.
For payment using credit cards (other than with Paypal), please contact Leanne Harms on 0428 049 888.
Donations are welcome and should be made to “Trustee for Sight For All Foundation Fund” and mailed to the postal address below.
Sight For All
PO Box 7028
Adelaide SA 5000
Alternatively please email email@example.com to discuss payment options further.
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