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Second sight…

Rtn John Mills, of Global Sight Solutions, addressing Novus Rotary

Rotary member John Miles made his second ‘visit’ to Leicester Novus Rotary in the space of two years to update us on the charity Global Sight Solutions, of which he is a trustee.

The last time John came, in February 2018, he travelled all the way from home, where he is a member of the Rotary Club of Leatherhead. This time, he stayed at home and addressed seven members of Novus from his home via Zoom.

John explained that Global Sight Solutions, which changed its name from Guildford Rotary Eye Project about four years ago, helps Rotary clubs in Third World countries set up permanent eye hospitals.

That way, says John, the services offered are permanent rather than temporary eye camps. A cataract operation can cost about £15. But because of the charity’s ability to get matching grants (including through the Rotary Foundation) it is possible to leverage a £5 donation up to £25.

GSS works by raising typically £12,000 which, matched by a Rotary club in the host country and with other grant funding, is enough to provide enough equipment to start a hospital.

The hospitals, from Day One, belong to the local Rotary club and are charged with the responsibility of becoming financially self-sustaining within seven years. In fact, said John, all of the 140 eye hospitals the charity has helped establish since its formation in 1988, they have achieved that by about their fifth anniversary.

The eye hospitals are open to private patients (though they cannot leapfrog over the poor patients the charity aims to prioritise). They will have an income from a pharmacy and from optical shops and other related activities.

The programme has been so successful that Global Sight Solutions has increased its target of achieving 100,000 operations a year to 150,000 per year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has slightly disrupted the charity’s operations, but John said there are a number of new eye hospitals in Pakistan, India, and some African countries, expected to open in the next few months.

John concluded his fascinating talk by asking us to think, every night as we switch out the bedroom light, how we would feel if we were poor and our sight was like being in that darkened room; and then each morning to think about how we would feel if we woke and found that our eyesight had disappeared.

He urged us to visit the charity’s website and maybe to take part in the lottery which costs £1 but offers a £25,000 prize, or just to click on the donate button, or to buy Christmas e-cards.

President Sarita Shah thanked John for his excellent talk.

Last edited: 21:30 on Thursday, 12.11.2020