By Past District Governor Julie Mason AM

It is always delightful to welcome new members to Wyndham Rotary – new members bring new project ideas. And so it was that we found out about an opportunity to make a difference in India.

The new project was to prevent avoidable blindness across all age groups, with beneficiaries located in remote villages in India that had no access to primary or tertiary eye care. This project motivated Wyndham Rotary for the first time to apply for an International Grant from The Rotary Foundation.

The project’s objective was achieved by working with the Koshika Foundation who organised eye-screening camps in the villages of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Haryana. People in these villages do not have eye care centres to diagnose blindness caused by cataracts. Once this screening occurred people were taken for life-changing surgery.

The Planning Committee from Wyndham Rotary was active in securing funds from local businesses and a local Interact Club, both being sensitive to the needs of people from villages in India. A link was established with representatives from the Koshika Foundation and Delhi Heritage Rotary with whom Wyndham Rotarians actively worked to plan the timing of the project and to identify those most in need of the surgeries offered. Several Zoom meetings were held to provide a response to questions from the Planning Committee.

Our project to help 600 people commenced in January 2021 with the screening and cataract eye surgeries being completed in two stages. In Stage 1, 314 surgeries were completed – 51% being female. In Stage 2, 85 surgeries were completed –54% being female.

The remaining 250 surgeries allocated from the funds provided by Delhi Heritage Rotary are in the process of being completed once access to people can be established. Unfortunately, the pandemic has caused many problems in India and access to villages is now a challenge.

A celebration of the project goals and recognition of our sponsors has been held and another evening is planned once the last phase is completed.

The gift of sight is a life-changing act. The surgery provides the opportunity for people to gain employment, which in turn provides families with a better quality of life. Children can attend school; medical treatment becomes an option and food and shelter becomes a new norm.

Developing a connection with representatives within the local Indian community in Wyndham has shown that through Wyndham Rotary, Interact and The Rotary Foundation some impressive outcomes can be achieved.

Now we have some more new members with some great ideas and passion to help people in Nigeria – let’s see where this takes us!