Operation Eyesight is an international development organization that is raising Calgary’s global profile. Since its inception in Calgary in 1963, Operation Eyesight has been preventing blindness and bringing sight-saving treatment to millions of people in the neediest parts of Africa and South Asia. The impact has been truly phenomenal and Calgarians have been behind this important work for decades.
According to the World Health Organization’s World Report on Vision, at least 2.2 billion people live with a vision impairment and for at least 1 billion of these, it could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed. Almost 90 per cent of blind or visually-impaired people live in low- and middle-income countries, where access to eye health care can be extremely limited.
Blindness doesn’t affect all people equally. It has the most devastating consequences on those already living in poverty. It affects more women and girls than men and boys.
Canada has a long history of international assistance. Operation Eyesight donors have expressed a desire to think globally and act locally by supporting a local organization dedicated to helping the people who need it the most in the world.
“We as Canadians tend to see ourselves as global citizens,” says Aly Bandali, president and CEO of Operation Eyesight. “We wear a Canadian flag patch on our backpacks when we’re travelling, because we’re proud of this reputation and we feel welcomed when people in other countries recognize us as Canadians.”
For the last two years in a row, Operation Eyesight has been recognized as one of Charity Intelligence Canada’s Top 10 Impact Charities and the organization was also included in the new Top 10 International Impact Charities category. Operation Eyesight was the only Calgary-based charity to be singled out for their high-impact overseas programs.
While Operation Eyesight has donors across Canada and throughout the world, community engagement within Calgary has been key to the success of the organization. In October of last year, Operation Eyesight celebrated World Sight Day as staff and a group of volunteers from Ovintiv took to the streets on Stephen Avenue Walk to encourage Calgarians to prioritize their eye health. They will be holding their biggest awareness event yet, Sight Is Life, at the Bow Tower on May 11.
Operation Eyesight’s donors make it possible for their programs to reach the people who need it the most, in some of the poorest remote communities in developing countries. These programs change lives in so many ways beyond restoring sight and preventing blindness. When people can work, they have a chance to break the cycle of poverty and maintain their independence. Women and girls are given equal access to many opportunities, empowering them to pursue education and employment. Communities are provided with clean water and sanitation to reduce the spread of blinding bacterial diseases, allowing the community to thrive.
“By restoring sight, we create opportunities for our beneficiaries to pursue a brighter future for themselves, their families and all those around them,” says Bandali.
For more information on this Calgary-based organization, visit operationeyesight.com.