India: 2015 highlights
By Kashinath Bhoosnurmath, Global Director of Programmes
Thanks to our generous donors, we’re making long-term, sustainable differences in the countries where we work. We recently published our 2015 Report to Donors, and we’re very excited to tell you about the incredible work our donors helped make possible last year. This week, we’ll highlight our work in India. Stay tuned for more updates on Ghana, Kenya and Zambia in the weeks to come!
Our India programs were well-established for 52 years in 2015, and over the course of the year, they continued to expand significantly in terms of partners, projects and results. We partnered with 55 eye hospitals across 15 states, and became the only INGO to work in India’s remote state of Jammu and Kashmir. We re-launched our work in Bihar, another region with a high prevalence of blindness; and we also launched our first community-based rehabilitation project in the slums of Bangalore.
We expanded our community eye health projects to 42, and in collaboration with our partners, declared our 50th village in India as avoidable blindness-free. By the end of 2015, a total of 66 villages were confirmed free of avoidable blindness! We also launched a new approach called “Participatory Approach to Community Eye Health” in all our Hospital-Based Community Eye Health Programs to involve the community in all aspects of our projects.
Thanks to support from the Edmonton Public Teachers’ Charity Trust Fund, we developed an operational manual for our Vision Centres, an innovative concept that continues to gain traction in all our countries of intervention. Our 71 Vision Centres are spread across 42 districts in India, bringing quality and sustainable eye care to the communities we serve. A full 75 percent of our Vision Centres are financially self-sustaining.
One of the year’s major highlights occurred in September, when we were proud to inaugurate the Operation Eyesight Universal Institute for Eye Cancer. Located within the renowned L V Prasad Eye Institute, this centre of excellence for eye cancers will serve not only India but other countries in Southeast Asia. With the support of a generous Canadian donor family, we’ll be able to provide quality, comprehensive cancer treatment for children and adults at low or no cost to them. Thanks to our donors, the Institute will save countless lives with its early detection and integrated treatment programs.
And last but certainly not least, after being established as an Indian fundraising entity in 2014, our team began fundraising efforts with local donors and corporations in 2015. We were fortunate to confirm financial support from Pellucid Inc. to equip 50 of our Vision Centres with computer technology, and we received 16,600 eyeglass lenses from Essilor Vision Foundation to be distributed through our community eye health projects to those who cannot afford them. We look forward to significant growth in local fundraising during the 2016 year!