• York Rotary

Global Sight Solutions

On April 30th Rotarian John Miles (member of Rotary Club of Leatherhead) gave us a presentation on the work the charity Global Sight Solutions (GSS). The Charity was founded in 1998 by Dr Sam Das MBE, former eye surgeon and ophthalmic consultant at Guildford’s Royal Surrey Hospital. During its 23-year existence, Rotary GSS has established more than 60 Rotary-run eye hospitals in the developing world to deal with avoidable sight problems, providing free eye care for those who are unable to afford it.

John and Fiona Miles have been at the forefront of the charity since its inception.

GSS establishes eye hospitals mainly in India and Africa which provide free eye care to the poor. When a hospital is set up the charity offers help and support but, once a hospital has been established, it is then expected to become financially independent through self-management and self-funding, deriving income from legacies, private patients and the establishment of pharmacies, optical shops, and well-woman/well-man clinics. Surgical equipment and surgeon training is provided by the charity as well as ‘eye bus’ transportation for patients. John and Fiona make regular visits to a small number of established hospitals each year to ensure that the work continues as intended.

Currently there are around 60 eye hospitals, but GSS are keen to open more in order to increase the number of cataract operations undertaken each year to 175,000 by 2022. The charity relies on donations for initial funding; through the RI Foundation matching grants programme, donations to GSS can be multiplied by up to a factor six.

Approximately £12,000 raised in the UK, when matched by fundraising in country and an RI Foundation global grant, culminates in $90,000 of funding – enough to establish one hospital.

John left us with two challenging thoughts. What would our reaction be if we went to bed and what we saw today was the last thing we would ever see? And, how might we feel if we woke up in the morning, opened our eyes, and couldn’t see? Real scenarios for real people across the world.

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