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World's 1st eClub (Jan 2002)
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Rotarians Join in Support of SightSavers

Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI) supports SightSavers, a organization that works to combat blindness in developing countries. Recently Rotarians presented a vehicle and equipment to help restore vision in Liberia, where thousands of people are blind or partially sighted as a result of water-borne and other preventable diseases.

The 1960 Land Rover turbo diesel 4X4 received a complete makeover that was accomplished through the efforts of various groups including the Birmingham Youth Offending Service, Birmingham Vehicles for Vision project, and Jaguar Land Rover in Solihull.

Individual Rotary Clubs donated boxes for the vehicle that were filled with specialized equipment and supplies. Other clubs donated funds and ophthalmology equipment. Says Jenny Marshall of SightSavers, "Thank you to Trade Aid for donating the mechanic's box. If anything goes wrong while on the way to villages, the driver can now fix the Land Rover and get back on the move again. Thank you also for the two teaching boxes and the seamstress box. These will be put to great use in our programmes in Liberia. We would not be able to do what we do today, were it not for the support of Rotary."

SightSavers is an international charity which works with partners to eliminate avoidable blindness and promote equality of opportunity for disabled people in the developing world. Sightsavers works to restore sight through specialist treatment and eye care. They also support people who are irreversibly blind by providing education, counseling and training.

In 2010, working with partners throughout the world, this organization helped:

  • Protect over 23 million people against river blindness
  • Perform over 270,000 sight-restoring cataract operations
  • Treat over a million people with antibiotics for trachoma

With the gift of the Land Rover, SightSavers workers can now reach remote villages, located in areas where roads are not in existence, and help restore vision for many, including small children. Marshall says the Land Rover will help deliver the services needed to save the sight of many people: "This will make a tremendous difference to the people of Liberia. Every minute, a child loses their sight and 80 percent of cases could have been prevented."

Please see accompanying video for more information about SightSavers.

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