Sri Lanka has a population of 20 million out of which approximately 400,000 suffer from low vision. Of these, around 200,000 people are believed to be blind. Refractive errors, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and blindness in children are the other causes of vision impairment. Majority of them are blind of cataract. Although most cases of cataract are related to the aging process, occasionally children can be born with the condition, or a cataract may develop after eye injuries, inflammation, and some other eye diseases.
Etisalat Lanka, will support the launching of the ‘Denethakata Senehasin’ project at Attanagalla and Gampaha Education Divisions to provide spectacles and essential eye care services for deserving individuals. Thisendeavor will become the next step towards strengthening and sustaining their Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. The brand is broadening on their previous CSR initiative which was to distribute free spectacles, which took place annually during local religious festivals. The project will be carried out with Etisalat’s continued partnership with So Others May See Inc. (SOMS) a non-government organization, whose main focus is sight.
Yasser Aboulamayem - CCO Etisalat Lanka
The project will be launched from the Attanagalla and Gampaha Education divisions. 78,612 schoolchildren from 98 schools along with their families will be assisted. Approximately 1,525 students willbenefit from receiving custom made spectacles , while 1400 students will be referred to regional ye hospitals.
School teachers from the Gampaha Education Zone have been trained to identify children with defective vision. Vision screening was done for school children to specifically identify those suffering fromRefractive errors.
Chamara Ekanayake - Program Director SOMS
During the initiation of the project, Etisalat signed an official Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SOMS,partnered with ‘Vision2020’ a program lead by the Ministry of Health followed by a hand over of donationswhich were donated by Etisalat Lanka.
Speaking on the project, Yasser Aboulamayem, Chief Commercial Officer of Etisalat Lanka stated that Etisalat intends to continue and expand this CSR initiativeby eventually focusing to extend the programme to all parts of the country.“There are many people in our community, especially the younger generation who are deprived of clear vision due to difficulties. We are proud to partner with SOMS once again to conduct this programmeto eliminate avoidable vision defects and blindness.”
Dr. Asela Abeydeera, National Coordinator Vision 2020 Program
President of SOMS Honorable Minister of ParliamentMr. Ruwan Wijewardene states that this year they hope to achieve their target of providing free eye care services to over 12,000 individuals, including both adults and children. “We believe that everyone deserves to continue living a productive and meaningful life and we are happy to partner with Etisalat Lanka once again who have supported our cause for many years and is partnering with us again to conduct this project” he underlined.
During earlier collaborations with SOMS to conduct ‘Spectacle Dansala’ during the past 4 years Etisalat is proud of the work conducted beginning from 2013 Vesak ‘Vision Program’ which took place in Colombo here approximately 5000 people were tested, and 3356 eyeglasses were donated along with 70 cataract patients being referred to the Colombo Eye hospital. The following year in April 2014 the Vesak ‘Spectacle Dansala’ was held in Galle which had2500 people tested.1867 eyeglasses donated and44 cataract patients referred to the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital. Finally in 2015 when the Poson ‘Spectacle Dansala’was conducted in Kurunegala,4200 people were tested of which 3602received eyeglasses and 12 contact patients who werereferred to for further intervention.
Malaka Talwatte - Treasurer & Board of Director SOMS
As a leading corporate in the country, Etisalat is committed to giving back to the community they operate in and will continue to focus on driving more meaningful community development projects over the coming years. “Etisalat has been in Sri Lanka for over 25 years and we felt an initiative to conduct a sustainable CSR campaign of this nature would truly benefit the people of Sri Lanka. This project helped us identify groups in need and assist them. The joy brought by this project has motivated us to continue in future projects similar to this” Aboulamayem concluded.