One World Sight Project (OWSP)is an international fund-raising project to cure blindness around the world. In part because of our efforts and encouragement through the years, there is now a formal proposal within the World Health Organization (WHO) for a Global Initiative for the Elimination of World Blindness over the next twenty years.
Almost 20 years ago I was overwhelmed by the fact that there were over 20 million people in the world who were needlessly blind and more than 1 million cases of new blindness developing each year. I was also deeply saddened because the majority of these people could have been cured by a relatively simple operation that often takes less than 20 minutes and costs less than $50! Despite the best efforts of the world’s leading eye care organizations, it was apparent that matters were only getting worse.
It was at that time that I realized I could no longer just sit back and listen to the bad news. I felt that if I took action in the right direction that I might be able to make some kind of difference. At the very least, I would try. I was inspired to create the One World Sight Project by a song (One Spirit) that I wrote about the plight of the blind in 1988.
In August of 1989 I began taking concrete steps forward and with the help of many others founded OWSP. Our goal as a non-profit organization is to assist in providing sight to the world’s backlog of curable blind by helping to supplement the ongoing efforts of the world’s most prominent eye care providers and to encourage new initiatives for the ultimate establishment of independent, effective and sustainable eye care in all nations. The strategy to achieve these goals is to create an adequately funded endowment and to financially support the ongoing efforts of the world’s top eye care organizations. This endowment would act more or less as a “United Fund” for international ophthalmology.
When I presented these ideas to my colleagues I was astounded by the amount of support and encouragement that I received. Over the years we have made much progress and have gained many powerful allies. Some of these allies have included Serge Resnikoff and Bjorn Thylefors, M.D. (current and past heads of the World Health Organization’s Blindness Prevention Program), Nag Rao, head of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, many of world’s major eye care organizations, the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, musicians Stevie Wonder, Chick Corea, and Carlos Santana, and corporations such as VISX, Inc. and Allergan Medical.
One World Sight Project has made possible the completion of the first comprehensive community eye care training and treatment facility in all of Africa, located in Moshi, Tanzania. The Kilimanjaro Center for Community Ophthalmology trains eye surgeons from dozens of African countries.
We are currently working to show how replication can benefit eye care in developing countries from the aspects of identical facilities with standardized equipment and training, uniform job descriptions for each team member, economy of scale for supplies and maintenance, and the role of volunteer professionals as periodic instructors.
A complete description of this project can be found at www.EndBlindness.org. Tax-deductible online donations are gratefully accepted. Thank you in advance on behalf of the millions of men, women, and children around the world who are needlessly blind.