(Tanzania, Nepal, Bangladesh)
As an optometrist and documentary photographer, I am very much aware and concern about the growing problem of preventable and treatable blindness in the world. The fact is in every 5 seconds a person in the world goes blind and in every minute a child in the world goes blind. Even more disturbing is the fact that two out of three blind people in the world are women and young girls; most of them living in areas of developing countries where they have limited and unequal access to sight restoring services.
As a result, I started working with SEVA Canada in their pursuit of achieving the goals of Vision 2020, a global initiative put out by the WHO in the battle to eliminate avoidable blindness in the world by 2020, and achieving global gender equality in eye care around the world. Seva Canada provides funding and expertise to partners in developing countries to create “sustainable, economically viable, locally managed eye care programs that will continue to serve local populations long after Seva’s involvement is complete”.
At the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO) in Tanzania, Seva Canada has partnered with a program founded by Dr. Paul Courtright and Dr. Susan Lewallen - Helping Africa Help Themselves. Not only does KCCO provide outreach eye care programs to rural area, it has become a major teaching and research hospital and resource centre for sub-Saharan Africa. Their program on gender equity which embraces the idea of empowering women to help themselves and their children, is unparalleled in the region, allowing many females in the remote rural areas to have better access to eye care, general healthcare and education. The program has helped many women and children to return to their roles as active, fundamental workers and caregivers in their community.