“I hope you will adopt me. I am the youngest here,” Helen Keller said in her famous “Knights of the Blind” speech to Lions at the 1925 International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA.
Keller was speaking figuratively, of course. She was 45 years old at the time. But the story she shared of her early childhood blindness and her heartrending struggle for independence as a girl left a lasting impression. It was one of a few key moments that led many Lions clubs to adopt sight as a major global service area.
“Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness; no little deaf, blind child untaught; no blind man or woman unaided?
I appeal to you Lions, you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind. Will you not constitute yourselves Knights of the Blind in this crusade against darkness?”
That quote is from her speech. Lions accepted and embraced her challenge, dedicating the past 100 years to serving people with visual impairments.
Lions Clubs International Foundation’s SightFirst programme funds the efforts of Lions, nongovernmental organisations, government agencies and others to fight the major causes of preventable and reversible blindness, and provide services to persons who are blind or have a visual impairment. This is accomplished through the support of eye health care delivery systems, training and infrastructure development.
How does the SightFirst programme battle global blindness?
The SightFirst programme builds eye care systems, fights blindness and vision loss and assists blind and visually-impaired persons in underserved communities throughout the world.
It serves as a leading member of IAPB, a coalition of organisations dedicated to the elimination of the the main causes of avoidable blindness and to prevent the doubling of avoidable vision impairment. Since the programme began in 1990, SightFirst has helped save the sight of more than 30 million people worldwide.
What kind of projects does SightFirst support, and is funding available for projects in developed countries?
SightFirst helps Lions and their partners address the world’s leading causes of preventable or reversible blindness, as well as provide services to persons who are blind or have low vision.
The Lions Club of Littleport is holding a SightFirst awareness day to celebrate World Sight Day on Saturday 7th Oct outside Wades Opticians High Street Ely from 10.30am – 12.30pm.
The deputy Mayor Mike Rouse will don a blindfold and be led around the town to see what it’s like to be unsighted.
The club has sent over 5,500 pairs of used spectacles for recycling and will have a collection point for used spectacles.
Local Sight charities will be in attendance to answer any questions