Can You See Me Now?

Summertime squinting–I swear that all the moisturizer in the world can only fight a losing battle against the crows feet progressing outward from my eyes reflexively protecting themselves from the sun. It’s a small complaint when put side-by-side with the people living in the deserts of India where cataracts arrive at a young age and steal vision. Sunglasses are unknown and eyes are not protected (from constantly blowing dust and sand as well as UV damage). I saw this crisis firsthand when doing my Rajasthan Humanitarian trip (on horseback–with Relief Riders International) where one of the activities of our band of traveling volunteers was helping at a free cataract eye surgery camp.

A similar project is the Sankara Eye Foundation. India is one of the leading countries that is home to a disproportionate number of the world’s blind with an estimate of 12 million people who are visually blind and 45 million who are visually handicapped. In 1998, Mr. K. Muralidharan, Mr. K. Sridharan, and Mr. Khushnood Ahmad founded the Sankara Eye Foundation and have managed to double the funds every year to develop a hospital and treat blindness and eye damage and disease. They have performed more than 70,000 free cataract surgeries each year and can conduct more than 200 surgeries a day. Volunteers and staff work tirelessly in the name of bringing (or returning) vision to India’s poor. The organization plans to open a new hospital in Punjab by the end of 2012 with an aspirational (but achievable) budget of 4 million dollars.

As you open your eyes to being able to make a difference in the world, what if you opened the eyes of others along the way?

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