A Sunday School class at Grandview Baptist Church (now Grandview Calvary Baptist Church) in Vancouver was all the inspiration that then-teenager Eileen Maharaj needed to support Operation Eyesight. “My teacher regularly had ‘mission moments’ in our class and one of those moments was about Operation Eyesight,” explains Eileen. “It inspired my imagination. Blindness is something that everyone can shudder at. No one wants to be blind. To think that it could be remedied was really exciting.” She has been a loyal and enthusiastic supporter ever since.
Eileen was fortunate to meet and get to know the man whose work inspired Operation Eyesight, Dr. Ben Gullison – or “Dr. Ben” as she affectionately calls him – and his wife Evlyn when they made trips home from India and after they retired. She also met founder Art Jenkyns on one of his many trips to raise support in Vancouver. “They were both lovely men,” remembers Eileen.
Through their eyes, she quickly saw the difference she could make in the lives of those afflicted with avoidable blindness. “Lives change, particularly in India, where they believe that when you’re blind it’s your karma and you deserve to be blind. It was more than just giving someone sight, it was changing their whole karma. Nothing could give you better value for money than that.”
When Operation Eyesight introduced the monthly giving plan, Eileen enthusiastically signed up. “It just seemed so much easier than phoning up and making a big effort each time. It’s a very painless way to give.”
Over the past 30-plus years of giving, Eileen has generously transformed the futures of hundreds of people. While she’ll quickly divert attention away from herself, she’s a passionate advocate for Operation Eyesight and the monthly giving program. “It’s so easy. If your money is taken off the top like your cable or telephone bill, you don’t miss it; and everyone can afford it. You might have to skip a latte or two. If you can afford a TV, you can afford to give to Operation Eyesight and prevent blindness.”