Former Chief Justice of India, Shri Venkatachellaih, flagged off the Bangalore BlindWalk from St Joseph’s School in which about 800 persons blindfolded themselves to express their solidarity with the visually challenged persons on World Sight Day.
This was part of the World BlindWalk organised by Project Vision in 150 locations across six countries in which about 100,000 participated,making it the largest eye donation dive in the world. The Walk ended at the Samsung Opera with the pledge by the participants to support the visually challenged persons and to donate their eyes after death. Mr Sandeep Bothra, Country Business Head of Alcon, led the group in taking the pledge.
Large number of students from St Josephs, Karnataka School of Pharmacy, Y’smen International, Alcon and the public came forward to be part of this special experience of blindness in the program. The 800 strong BlindWalk was coordinated by Project Vision with non governmental organisations and institutions like Rotary Abilities, St Joseph’s College, CBM, YsMen International, AIFO, ECHO, Samsung, Essilor and so on. Rotary Abilities, which is the only Rotary Club in the world with members who are elusively differently abled, took the co-organising role in the program. Their vision is to pursue projects helping differently-abled people to join the mainstream and create credible, dynamic leadership from the community to bridge the perception gap. This helps to create greater equality, inclusivity and shows people the ability to serve rather than being served.
The fifth edition of World BlindWalk was conducted to focus attention on the issues of the visually challenged persons and to promote eye donation. India has 15 million blind persons – accounting for worlds one third population, as per WHO. About three million of these visually challenged persons could see again through eye donation. But eye donation in the country was only around 69,000 last year despite about ten million deaths as per National Program for the Control of Blindness(NPCB).
BlindWalk is a novel idea developed by Project Vision to express solidarity with the visually challenged people with the caption ‘Feel Being Blind’. Through this experience people are motivated to donate their eyes. Conducted in US, China, Nepal, Srilanka, Dubai and India, it the largest eye donation campaign in the world and is part of the eye donation movement started by Project Vision.
The specialty of BlindWalk is that it blindfolds sighted people and takes them on a Walk in public place. Started with the first BlindWalk on the M G Road in Bangalore in 2014, about 500 BlindWalks have been conducted so far. In 2017 it was conducted in 253 locations. The most touching aspect of the BlindWalk is that it is led by visually challenged people. While they walk in the front with their white canes, the blindfolded participants hold on to them to find their way.
The second objective is to create Vision Ambassadors, who will do the coordination with the diseased family and the Eye Bank. Third objective is to break the myths surrounding eye donations. Anyone can donate their eyes. There is no age limit for eye donations. People with any diseases can donate their eyes. The face will not be disfigured. It can be done at home through a operation.