There is something special.

By: Neath Kong, Brien Holden Vision Institute, Country Coordinator, Cambodia

There is something special about that moment a child sees clearly for the first time. That amazing moment when their faces light up, their posture changes and ultimately they giggle. That giggle is infectious.

We are lucky, at the Brien Holden Vision Institute in Cambodia, our school programs have reached almost 51,000 children in six years, and that equals a lot of giggles!

We are all pretty proud of that figure, but we must make it possible for every child in Cambodia to get eye care. If we can do that, children’s lives will automatically change for the better. There is something special about how one small change can cause a ripple effect, how eye care, leads to clear vision that can impact education, which leads to more opportunity and ultimately a brighter, healthier life. That is special.

I am reminded of a child who at 17, had her eyes tested for the first time. She told us that for years she struggled to see the board, and even found it difficult to get to school without feeling dizzy or getting a headache. We gave her a pair of glasses, and such a simple thing changed her life. For the first time in years she saw clearly, and that moment of joy is something I will never forget.

I can remember her saying to me that for her that pair of glasses was a gift. It meant she wouldn’t be scared walking to school each day, and the stress of not being able to see to study was lifted.

So, eye checks are important, they enable children to perform at their best academically, athletically and socially.

I want Cambodian children, regardless of gender, race, religion or social class, to equally have an eye check. Often children don’t know they aren’t seeing well because they have nothing to compare their vision to. I want children to believe their blurry vision can get better. Because if they believe it can, they are more likely to mention the problem and ask for help.

There is something special about working in vision care. Every day we get to change lives, and for that I am grateful, inspired and motivated to do more.

I believe that success will come from promoting public advocacy around the importance of child eye health, the active involvement of partners, and alignment with national strategies for prevention of blindness, and health.

We have an opportunity to achieve something special and Our Children’s Vision is the platform for us all to come together, work even harder and achieve even more.

For more information about Brien Holden Vision Institute visit www.brienholdenvision.org  

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