World Water Day: Washing away blindness in Zambia!
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Tomorrow is World Water Day, and we’re overflowing with reasons to celebrate! Together, we’re saving sight and lives by providing clean water and eye health education to communities in Zambia!

Last year, a valued donor and friend to Operation Eyesight initiated a “Washing Away Blindness” campaign to bring fresh, clean water to communities in Zambia. Our Board Chair, Rob Ohlson, generously offered to match all donations made to the campaign in 2016.

Realizing the remarkable opportunity to double their donation and be part of a long-term solution to prevent blindness, those who were contacted tried to make the most generous gift they could. The result? An incredible $485,000 was raised!

These funds will be used to develop well programs in 24 of some of Zambia’s most vulnerable communities. By providing people with clean water for washing their hands and faces, we’ll help prevent the spread of trachoma, a bacterial eye infection which eventually leads to irreversible blindness.

Operation Eyesight is the only organization in all of Zambia implementing the full SAFE strategy to eliminate trachoma. SAFE was developed by the World Health Organization and stands for Surgery, Antibiotics, Face-washing and hygiene education, and Environmental improvement, including wells and boreholes.

Operation Eyesight’s well programs are so much more than simply drilling a hole in the ground. Establishing each well program includes identifying a viable location; drilling the borehole; analyzing the water quality; training and equipping local villagers as pump minders; monitoring and evaluating the program; mobilizing the community and building the capacity of the village water committee; distributing antibiotics; and educating the community on eye health and general health.

Each well developed through our “Washing Away Blindness” campaign will serve approximately 400 people, which means 9,600 people will receive access to safe, clean water – and each well will create a ripple effect for generations to come! Not only will the provision of fresh water and hygiene education help prevent blinding trachoma, but it will also provide other important benefits. (See the photos below for more information.)

We’d like to thank Rob and all of our donors for their incredible support. Thanks to you, we’re one step closer to washing away blindness in Zambia!

Improved sanitation aids in the reduction of serious illnesses such as diarrheal diseases, upper-respiratory infections, skin diseases and malaria.
Improved sanitation aids in the reduction of serious illnesses such as diarrheal diseases, upper-respiratory infections, skin diseases and malaria.
The presence of water close by often leads to the construction of schools, and encourages teachers to accept postings at these schools. By preventing the chronic recurrence of trachoma in children, and by eliminating the need for children to travel long distances to fetch water for their households before going to school, we can contribute to an increase in school attendance, for both girls and boys. Additionally, preventing blindness among adults means that children will no longer have to stay home to care for their parents.
The presence of water close by often leads to the construction of schools, and encourages teachers to accept postings at these schools. By preventing the chronic recurrence of trachoma in children, and by eliminating the need for children to travel long distances to fetch water for their households before going to school, we can contribute to an increase in school attendance, for both girls and boys. Additionally, preventing blindness among adults means that children will no longer have to stay home to care for their parents.
Established water points help reduce the number of human-animal conflicts. With a safe water source nearby, people no longer have to contend with crocodiles or other dangerous animals that may be lurking in rivers or lakes. In addition, community water points are surrounded by a fence and livestock are provided with water from a selected area.
Established water points help reduce the number of human-animal conflicts. With a safe water source nearby, people no longer have to contend with crocodiles or other dangerous animals that may be lurking in rivers or lakes. In addition, community water points are surrounded by a fence and livestock are provided with water from a selected area.
 A reliable water source gives communities the ability to irrigate crops, grow vegetable gardens and raise healthier livestock, which leads to improved nutrition. It also allows for increased income through the sale of excess produce and livestock.
A reliable water source gives communities the ability to irrigate crops, grow vegetable gardens and raise healthier livestock, which leads to improved nutrition. It also allows for increased income through the sale of excess produce and livestock.
The SAFE strategy is helping us achieve many of the global Sustainable Development Goals, most notably the goals to ensure everyone has access to clean water and sanitation, and to promote healthy lives and well-being for all.
The SAFE strategy is helping us achieve many of the global Sustainable Development Goals, most notably the goals to ensure everyone has access to clean water and sanitation, and to promote healthy lives and well-being for all.
Our “Washing Away Blindness” campaign was inspired by our generous matching donor, Rob Ohlson. Thank you, Rob, for your incredible gift – and for your contagious enthusiasm. You make the world a better place!
Our “Washing Away Blindness” campaign was inspired by our generous matching donor, Rob Ohlson. Thank you, Rob, for your incredible gift – and for your contagious enthusiasm. You make the world a better place!

 

While our “Washing Away Blindness” campaign may be over, our work to fight blinding trachoma is ongoing. Please consider donating to our trachoma surgery program at operationeyesightindia.org/trachoma. Thank you for your support, and Happy World Water Day!