Why did I choose this mission?

There are many gifts of life that we take for granted. One such gift is the gift of sight. Seeing is something default, something we do every day. But for many being able to see again is nothing short of a luxury. To a layman, blindness and visual impairments are a health issue and something perceived to be permanent and unfortunate. For impoverished countries like Pakistan, the actual cause of blindness is poverty!

85.4% of blindness is avoidable in Pakistan. The burden of blindness due to cataracts, a reversible condition, represents 51.5% of all cases of blindness. The lack of awareness and funds to get a cataract surgery means that people with moderate to severe visual impairment are unable to get themselves treated and end up in a vicious cycle of poverty and disability.It is like being in jail for years just because of not paying a $10 bail! These people can have their vision back but are being shut out of leading productive and functional lives every day just because they can't afford primary healthcare. My mission is to liberate people from blindness whose sole cause is poverty, resulting in even more poverty. No one should be deprived of the gift of sight and live blind just for the sake of not being able to afford treatment for reversible conditions such as cataracts.

Our Mission

I have always loved to travel the world and capture its beauty through my own eyes and the lens of the camera. Being able to view the world clearly and cherish all of its experiences is the greatest gift that life has to offer.

Consequently, dark, confined spaces and not being able to see are my greatest fears. A couple of years ago, I had a harrowing experience of being locked in a pitch-dark elevator for 15 minutes. Those 15 minutes were the most excruciating moments of my life. Not only did they leave me with an acute form of claustrophobia, but they also made me ponder that what I couldn't live with for 15 minutes, many people in the world had to live with for their entire lives!

Post this experience; I resolved to make a difference. I chose to spend my free time volunteering at a local community eye hospital named Khairun-Nisa hospital, based in Karachi, Pakistan. Working here and be involved directly, i came across a stark realization that blindness wasn't a life sentence and that more than half of visual impairment and near blindness cases were reversible!

Avoidable Causes
Cataract 51.5%
Corneal opacity 11.8%
Uncorrected aphakia 8.6%
Glaucoma 7.1%
Posterior capsular opacification 3.6%
Refractive error 2.7%
Diabetic retinopathy 0.2%
Total avoidable causes 85.4%
Unavoidable Causes
Phthisis/absent globe 2.7%
Macular degeneration 2.1%
Optic atrophy 0.9%
Amblyopia 0.5%
Other 8.4%
Total unavoidable causes 14.6%

Equipped with a greater understanding of the core issue, I aim to target reversible blindness,
1) Creating awareness among sufferers, donors, and generation population about reversible blindness and
2) Sourcing funds for the Khairun-Nisa hospital using the power of photography.

Though there are NGOs doing a phenomenal job on a large scale to treat reversible blindness, working with Khairun-Nisa hospital allows me to target low-income neighbourhoods and communities surgically. It allows me to create awareness among the populace of nearby areas, showcase real-life cases of visual impairment, and source donations from society to improve the quality of life within these targeted communities.

Creating awareness is as important as sourcing donors because not knowing the nature/reversibility linked with blindness can impede people from donating. E.g., many cancer hospitals initially find it difficult to source funds because people are not aware that cancer is not always terminal. Similarly, it is essential to spread awareness that many causes of blindness are reversible, and with someone's help, a person can restore their eyesight.

Aleena Afridi, a student of CAS School in Karachi, Pakistan is part of our team to help with fund management and on ground engagement. Faizan Khan is part of the team to assist with the website technical updates and submission management.