Eye Openers is a program providing eye and medical care to the poor and needy in rural India in a small town called Payakaraopeta, located in the Visag District in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Within a 50km radius of Payakaraopeta there are 150 smaller villages with a total population of around 500,000. Most of these people are classed as poor and underprivileged.
In the area immediately beyond this, there are a further 1,000,000 people with minimal or no access to eye and medical services. It is these people who are too poor to access medical care that Eye Openers serves.
The Eye Openers Ophthalmology Program was set up in 2002 by Dr Kota Kumar, a well respected Indian and western trained ophthalmologist. Prior to setting up Eye Openers, Dr Kumar worked as a mission eye doctor for 18 years in rural India. Dr Kumar works with Dr Bhaskar, an ophthalmologist who performs most of the cataract surgeries.
In addition, the team includes an ophthalmic assistant, a theater assistant, an outpatient assistant and and an optician. Other helpers organise remote village clinics and advertise these clinic visits.
The project is registered by the government of Andhra Pradesh and provides its service through an eye clinic and surgery in the home base village of Payakaraopeta and also by servicing clinics in the surrounding smaller villages.
The remote village Eye Clinics provide diagnosis and basic eye care including the provision of prescription glasses and eye drops.
Medicines, spectacles and eye drops are given free of charge; patients seen at the main clinic are either given free treatment, or pay a small fee, depending on their means. People who need eye surgery are scheduled for surgery at the main centre. The Centre also organises their travel to and from the surgery. In addition, a general medical clinic is provided where common ailments such as arthritis and malnutrition are treated.
Each year the Eye Openers team sees over 40,000 patients and performs approximately 1,000 cataract operations.
The Eye Openers partnership with Australia began in 2006 when Dr David Moore, Ophthalmologist from Tamworth, NSW, met Dr Kumar Kota, Ophthalmologist from the village of Payakaraopeta in rural India. The two met whilst David was visiting a childrens' home in Payakaraopeta and Kumar was visiting as a doctor.
Dr Moore could see a great need in rural India which Dr Kumar was struggling trying to meet on his own. This was the beginning of a great partnership which began with free cataract surgeries for the poor of whom many were blind due to this condition. Dr Moore formed Eye Openers International with some good friends from Tamworth and began to provide medical equipment and funding to make a difference in the lives of many in this small corner of rural India.
The Eye Openers Australian Board is: Dr David Moore, Gaye Moore, Peter Jones, Mike Matumaini, David Walker, Glenys Walker and Mitch Wilson.
David is an Ophthalmologist at his medical practice – North West Eyes in Tamworth NSW; Gaye does administrative work; Peter Jones has recently retired from teaching TAFE in Tamworth; Mike Matumaini was invited to join the board last year; David & Glenys are both semi retired accountants and Mitch is a business owner in Tamworth.
The board exists to facilitate the operation between the two countries. It also has the task of raising funds, overseeing programs (medical and non medical) and arranging regular trips to India for visitors and supporters.
Within the area of reach of the Eye Openers hospital, there are approximately 1.5 million people. The majority of these people live below the poverty line. The Eye Openers medical outreach aims to provide medical care to the people of this area regardless of their financial means.
Eye Openers aims to provide 1000 sight restoring cataract operations every year to the very poor people in our catchment area. An additional 1500 other eye operations are also performed per year.
Eye Openers has provided help to the local community in times of crisis. The worst of these crises came in the form of a major flood in November 2012 following Cyclone Nilam. Eye Openers was able to rebuild over 100 homes that were totally destroyed.
Eye Openers runs five after school study centres in various locations six evenings per week. This allows children from local schools to obtain further tuition with the aim of improving their grades. With better results they are more likely to gain entrance to more prestigious high schools and possibly even university.
Venkata is an only child, born to a poor family in Andhra Pradesh. Good at studies and sports, he is very ambitious and wants to become a film star. A couple of years ago, Venkata's vision started deteriorating but his parents were not able to take him to a hospital. He came to Eye Openers almost totally blind in one eye and with just 10 per cent vision in the other. Diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes, Eye Openers performed cataract surgery. Now, Venkata can see everything clearly again, including his film star heroes. Venkata is grateful for being given his vision back through the life-changing surgery.
Appalanaidu, a day labourer who works hard in the fields, found his vision slowly deteriorating and was advised to have surgery but could not possibly have afforded it. His wife was unable to work in the fields and the local community did not support them in any way. The couple came to know about Eye Openers' free services and went to see them. Eye Openers performed cataract surgery on Appalanaidu's left eye and he regained his vision. Now he is very happy to get on with his life and is working again to feed himself and his wife.
Saaramma came from a low caste family with a profession of washing dirty clothes. Every morning at 3am she went to the riverbank to wash clothes in return for a small wage of 50-70 rupees per day ($1-$1.30 AUD). If she stopped working, there was no income, no food, no medicine for herself or her daughter. When Saaramma's daughter married and moved away she was cared for by the Eye Openers church community. In the severe floods, Saaramma's house was washed away and she lost everything she owned. Through the support of Eye Openers and Anglican Aid, Saaramma was given a new home. Once a suffering woman, Saaramma now comforts many in suffering, working in the community.
Eye Openers International, based in Tamworth, NSW, organises and hosts an Annual Fundraising Event. A fun evening of Indian food and a charity auction that raises funds for our five Study Centres. You can also get involved by hosting your own fundraiser - contact us to find out how we can help!
The 2019 Charity Fundraiser:
Details: Saturday 21st September at the Tamworth Town Hall.
Ticket prices: Adults $40ea | Children 5 - 15yrs $20ea | Children under 5 are free.
Included: Indian meal, soft drinks, tea & coffee (BYO other drinks)
Dress Code: If able, please wear something Indian.
Special Features: The return of the celebrity auctioneer, Mahatma Coat, to conduct the charity auction.
Original artworks for sale.
Lucky door prize.
RSVP by Saturday 15th September 2019.
ALL PROCEEDS GO TO EYE OPENERS STUDY CENTRES AND MEDICAL WORK.
The Australian team of supporters that has partnered with Eye Openers assists in facilitating the operation between the two countries.
As well as raising funds and overseeing programmes, they organise regular trips designed to give participants an overview of the Eye Openers work.
If you would like to be a part of an Eye Openers International team visit, please contact us.
*It is emphasised that responsibility for immunisations and disease prevention is that of the individual traveler.
One of the main ways you can be involved in supporting the work of Eye Openers India is through financial aid. Your donation CAN and WILL make a difference in the lives of many starting from as little as 50c.
$0.50 = Prescription eyedrops for one clinic patient.
$2.50 = One pair of spectacles for a clinic patient.
$40 = One life-changing cataract operation.
$350 = Covers the salary of one Eye Openers medical staff-member for one month.
$180 - $280 = Covers the salary of other members of staff for one month.
HOW TO DONATE
You can donate directly to Eye Openers International to support the pastors and widows that are facilitated by the Eye Openers team in India.
*Donations for pastors and widows are currently non tax deductible.
A/cc Name: Eye Openers International Inc
Bank: Westpac, Tamworth Branch
BSB: 032 621 A/cc No: 369464
To help us identify your contribution please email the details of your donation to Glenys Walker at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Since September 2012, the Archbishop of Sydney's Anglican Aid has been in partnership with Eye Openers. This has helped raise funds for a number of Eye Openers and humanitarian aid projects.
Donations for medical work, educational projects and the Study Centres over $2.00 via Anglican Aid are tax deductible.
If you choose to donate via Anglican Aid you can do so online by going to Eye Openers page on the Anglican Aid website. Both credit card and direct debit options are available through Anglican Aid’s donation page.
Alternatively, cheques can be posted to:
PO Box Q190
QVB Post Office, NSW 1230
Eye Openers International
PO Box 920, Tamworth, New South Wales 2340.