Sight loss is something many people the world over worry about. Though if you live in an industrialised country, chances are you’d have access to treatment and support if your sight became compromised.
Presently 90 per cent of the world’s blind people live in developing countries, and for them, gaining access to treatment and support is by no means guaranteed. This is even more upsetting when learning that 75 per cent of the world’s blindness can be prevented or cured, meaning there are millions of people who are blind that don’t have to be.
Since 2014, Sightsavers has been fundraising for our Million Miracles appeal – a campaign aiming to fund a million sight-saving surgeries throughout the poorest parts of the world. Three years on, with funding for 811,000 surgeries raised, we are closing in on our ambitious target. We hope that, with the generosity of our supporters, we’ll get there this Christmas. But we’re not there yet…
Virgin Unite has been supporting A Million Miracles since the beginning, funding cataract operations in Asia and Africa, and encouraging the British public to join the appeal. It’s been an incredible journey and as we approach the end of the three year campaign there has never been a better time to get involved; from the 09th October until the 09th January, the UK government will match all donations pound for pound!
The funding received through UK Aid Match will support our projects in Pakistan and Bangladesh. These projects are providing life-changing cataract operations and are breaking down barriers to eye health for some of the poorest and most vulnerable, including women and men with disabilities, and children like Majidul.
Majidul is seven and lives in the Kushtia district of Bangladesh with his family. His father earns a small amount of money working in the nearby paddy fields and his mother keeps their home. Before his cataract surgery, Majidul could not see well enough to learn to read or write. He was a sporty little chap and enjoyed playing badminton and cricket, but with such poor vision he struggled to keep up with the games.
Before his cataract surgery, Majidul could not see well enough to learn to read or write.
After having no luck getting a diagnosis from local village practitioners, Majidul’s parents grew very worried about his future. Without sight he would struggle to get an education, and might never be able to work, leave his parents’ home, or raise a family of his own. So when they heard that an eye camp would be taking place some distance away, they were determined to make the journey for the sake of their little boy, whatever it took.
When they arrived, a brief examination identified cataracts in both Majidul’s eyes. Much to his parent’s joy, the eye health worker contacted the Khulna division of Sightsavers, who arranged for Majidul to have surgery – fully paid for by our supporters’ donations.
A year on from the surgery, a lot has changed for Majidul. He has flourished – from isolated and unresponsive, to a confident and cheerful boy.
Soon after, Majidul travelled to the capital, Dhaka, with his mother, where he bravely underwent cataract surgery without any fuss. Following his surgery, Majidul made a quick recovery. His reaction to seeing clearly for the first time was almost instantaneous, giggling with delight at the colourful soft toys being handed to him as his bandages were removed.
A year on from the surgery, a lot has changed for Majidul. He has flourished – from isolated and unresponsive, to a confident and cheerful boy. He can now help his family with chores at home, go to school, read books and much to his little brother’s delight, he can now play cricket with ease (though we suspect his brother may feel differently when he catches him out)!
If you enjoyed Majidul’s story, you can see more of our work captured in beautiful photographs at our free exhibition on London’s Southbank at More London until the 29th October.
If you would like to make a donation to A Million Miracles, and have your money matched pound for pound by the UK government, please visit www.sightsavers.org or call 0800 089 2020