On the 13th of October, 2016, a very unique program called a "World Blind Walk" was organized in 55 locations in 5 countries.
This initiative is part of the "Project Vision", a new ministry that started in the Province of Bangalore three years ago to reach out to the persons who are visually challenged (blind).
This movement model has involved the Government, several Dioceses, Religious Congregations, Social Service Agencies, Hospitals, Educational Institutions, other Religious, laity, ex-Claretians and people of good will from all backgrounds.
Here you will find a report, some pictures and a special letter of blessing and encouragement sent by Pope Francis.
Congratulations to Fr. George Kannanthanam, CMF, to his brothers from Bangalore, as well as to all those of organized this event on World Sight Day (from Chennai, North East, Sri Lanka, East Asian Delegation and St Thomas) and for this special message-action of mercy and compassion to the society.
REPORT ON WORLD BLIND WALK BY PROJECT VISION ON WORLD SIGHT DAY
One of the largest eye donation campaign in the world, was conducted in connection with the World Sight Day on October 13 through a very innovative program called World Blind Walk organized in 55 locations across five countries by Project Vision. The Walk was conducted in US, China, Sri Lanka and Nepal apart from all major cities in India. About 5000 visually challenged people led 25,000 people in a blind folded Walk that ended with a pledge to donate eyes and help the cause of the visually challenged people across the World.
Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Shri. Krishan Pal Gurjar, Government of India, blindfolded himself to express his solidarity with the visually challenged persons and pledged to donate his eyes in the program. Social activist Swami Agnivesh and Bishop Kuriokose from Faridabad diocese joined to lead a group of over 1000 persons in Delhi as part of the World Blind Walk on World Sight Day.
Health Ministers led the Blind Walk in Hyderabad (Telungana State) and Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh). Several social and religious leaders and bureaucrats were involved in the Walk in all locations. Various religious leaders were involved in the Walk to inspire eye donation as a religiously accepted and promoted program. Catholic Bishops of Faridabad , Varanasi, Kottayam and Cochin were part of the Walk in their respective places.
Implementing the theme of this year, World Sight Day by International Association for the Prevention of Blindness, 'Stronger Together,' World Blind Walk brought together over 500 organizations across the globe from social, developmental, medical, academic and religious backgrounds on a single platform to push for a global movement on eye donations. National Federation of the Blind, Eye Bank Association of India, Art of Living, Catholic Hospital Association of India and 104 Health line of government are national partners of the program. Apart from this in all 55 locations, there was a lead organisation who mobilised about a dozen other agencies as part of organising and conducting the Walk. They were responsible for planning, mobilising financial and other resources and get people to participate in the Walk. Thus it was a locally owned up program. Only the general objectives and methodology was given by Project Vision, which also did a close mentoring with the core team in each place.
The concept of Blind Walk was developed by Project Vision, a Claretian Social Ministry, in 2014 through which sighted persons are given an opportunity to experience what blindness is through a one kilometer blindfolded Walk in a public place, led by visually challenged persons. More than 5000 of them led the Walk in all places. The theme of the Walk was ‘Feel being blind. Donate your eyes.’ The objective of World Blind Walk is to create Vision Ambassadors, who would coordinate between the bereaved family and the eye bank in the event of death of anyone in their neighbourhood or contacts. Corneal blindness can be eliminated by developing Vision Ambassadors in the community. World Blind Walk will develop 25,000 Vision Ambassadors. Project Vision has conducted the Walk in about 20 places already before launching it globally this year.
Mr Santhosh Rungta, General Secretary of the National Federation of the Blind on behalf of the organisers, who led the Walk fromm the front, presented a memorandum to the government to make 104 as a common number for the whole country for eye donation.Minister Gurjar promised to take up the matter with the Government. This would make the process of eye collection easier in the country.
Walk was conducted in 55 cities in five countries US (Dallas), Colomb (Srilanka), Kathmandu (NEpal), Macau (China) and all major cities of india from Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh in the extreme North East to Varanasi in the North to Mumbai in the West and Kottayam in the South.
For more details, see http://www.theprojectvision.org/.
Fr George Kannanthanam
The Project Vision
MS 1 (Cf. CC 2; Dir 26.)