Sundarbans – the largest river delta in the world- is a low-lying delta region of a group of small islands in the Bay of Bengal. The beauty of the region is enamouring.

However, the beauty of the region can be deceitful. A tourist may just view a picturesque Sundarbans, but the people who inhabit the region have to face a harsh grim reality. The locals are firmly gripped in the shackles of poverty and disease, and surrounded by excessive water. Eye-ailments are one of the major diseases that prevail making this group the most vulnerable in Sundarbans. The region lacks awareness as well as facilities in the field of eye-health care with even week-old infants suffering from eye-ailments leading to blindness in the very initial years of their life.

Causes

Prevalence blindness

  • Statistics reveal that the average prevalence of blindness in sundarbans (1.88%) is higher than the national average which stands at 1%.
  • Cataract is one major disease that ails 83.8% of the local population and has left many blind.
  • The region is entirely enclosed by the Bay of Bengal, and the only way to make the inbound journey is over the water.

#Eye Can’t

I am Imraj. I can’t learn about the world like my friends because my vision is too weak to read. Learn how Sightsavers saved my sight so I can see a better and brighter tomorrow.

I am Madhabi. I feel so guilty robbing my daughter, who has to manage the household, of her childhood. Learn how Sightsavers gave back my vision so my 9 year old daughter can study instead of work.

I am Mukundu. I feel guilty all the time. My 80 year old mother has to take care of me instead of the other way around because I am blind. Learn how Sightsavers gave back my sight so my mother can finally retire and rest.

Target & Achieved figures

With the support of Standard Chartered Bank, Sightsavers launched a 5-year project under the Seeing is Believing campaign in 2013 with the vision to eliminate avoidable blindness in the Sundarbans region by the year 2018.

They launched the project with the following Objectives.
  • To improve the coverage and access to affordable and quality eye-health services
  • To increase awareness and improve attitudes towards eye-heath among the target communities
  • To increase the capacity of the governmental and non-governmental institutions for delivery of eye-health services

SIGHTSAVERS ON THE SITE

More than 30,000 adults and around 200 minors have undergone free cataract surgeries under the project. A network of vision centers have been established, outreach camps and school eye-screenings organized, affordable spectacles offered, and awareness events conducted.

The project also aimed to encourage and ensure:
  • Training of community health workers
  • Awareness through clubs and women groups
  • Creation of village eye-heath committees
  • Development of a cadre of health volunteers

Sightsavers, with the help of their partner NGOs, has worked hard and long to help the locals. Awareness campaigns and Vision centers have played a major role in improving the overall statistics of the region over the past few years.

The project has been a grueling and emotional journey that has led to many happy stories. It has made things possible for people who had accepted darkness as their way of life. Sightsavers has helped make a difference.
Now, they can take charge of their own lives.