Thursday 12 October 2017

Taking my Sight for Granted on World Sight Day #WSD2017

Today is World Sight Day and I have an admission to make - I rarely think about the privilege that it is to be able to see the world in glorious colour. I take my eye sight completely for granted, I am so lucky to have been born in a country where healthcare and eye-care is free for every child. Of course the same can't be said for many living in the poorest parts of Africa. I recall when I was visiting Ethiopia just how many people I met who had numerous eye problems such as cataracts and these problems adversely affect their life in a massive way.

This years theme for World Sight Day is #MakeVisionCount and they are raising awareness that around 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired and that around 80% of those people are suffering from blindness or visual impairment due to a preventable cause (1).

I have no real idea of the impact blindness would cause on my every day life, so yesterday afternoon I did something simple and put on a blindfold and tried to navigate my house. It was after school so the kids were there if I needed them and I told them to just treat me as normal. I managed a trip to the loo on my own and I could do that OK although I have to admit I found it very scary living in the darkness, even only for a short time.

Just as I was about to come out I heard one of my girls calling my name and it was pretty shocking that I couldn't actually tell which of my twins it was. When I identified it was Miss E she said come and help me with my maths homework mum and normally I help her read the questions as she is dyslexic and it can take her a while but of course I couldn't do that. I had to ask my son to help her. Then my other daughter asked for a snack and could she have a cream cheese and ham wrap? I decided to attempt this without my sight as I wouldn't be using a sharp knife or such and it was fine but it took me twice as long, was pretty messy and she ended up with chicken slices rather than ham.

This little experiment of mine really did shock me and has made me even more aware of just how amazing it is to have two functioning eyes. I am so grateful that when I was just five years old I had an operation (funded by the NHS) to correct a squint and now aged 44 years I still have good vision and don't require any glasses. But even if I did our health service would be there to help me and that is something most people outside of the UK can't say.

Meet Gondo...

Let me introduce you to Gondo. He is 63 and lives in Ivory Coast, West Africa. All his life he has been able to sustain himself by growing and selling aubergines; the money he makes is enough for him to live, not extravagantly but he has enough to get by. Then he started to go blind because of cataracts and now he can't work his beloved garden anymore and this means he also can't sell his produce and make a living.

Something simple like cataracts can be rectified with an operation costing just £24, but Gondo doesn't have the money to access healthcare in Ivory Coast where a quarter of the population live below the poverty line (that's living on £1 a day). Then you also have to look at the fact that hospitals are few and far between and to try and reach one for an operation could be a journey of hundreds of miles, on foot and blind - its just not going to happen!

Gondo is now reliant on his neighbours to help him and to provide him with food. Whilst it is wonderful to know they are helping and I saw first-hand the amazing community spirit in Africa (we have much to learn from them) can you imagine how helpless Gondo now feels? I expect his self-esteem has fallen greatly and life doesn't feel half as good as it did before and considering it was probably a pretty simple life anyway it really is so sad...... and the important fact, its avoidable.

There is enough money and resources on our planet for everyone to be able to live in a good manner but sadly due to greed and bad stewardship some countries have ended up with an abundance and many have so little. It's for this reason that I'm always really happy to get involved with campaigns such as this one from CBM UK. If I can give £5 towards an operation and that helps CBM offer sight-saving operations to people like Gondo then I will. I don't need those two coffees out this week but Gondo sure needs to see to get through every day life.

Donate before 26th October for an exciting extra bonus!

I'd love to urge you to join me and give what you can to CBM too please. At the moment due to a generous partner donor they can unlock an additional £4 for every £1 donated. So even if you can only donate £1 (come on, whats that to most people? A lost locker coin) it helps, it really does all add up.

Head over here to make your donation, I just did!

Each year, 16,000 people are diagnosed with cataracts in Ivory Coast, with only a small proportion able to receive an operation, whereas here in the UK approximately 330,000 people per year successfully undergo cataract surgery (2). It really is very routine and it means that the eye sight of all those people is saved.

Wouldn't it be amazing if the same could happen everywhere? Lets do our part and donate the amount we can to help be part of the solution.

Many thanks, Mich x


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