CBM Save Sight online supporter event

Video transcript

(soft music)

Hello and welcome everyone.

As part of our inclusive practise,

we introduce ourselves with a description.

So let me do that now.

It’s Jane Edge speaking.

I have short blonde hair, glasses

and I’m wearing a navy jacket,

a black and brown coloured scarf,

and I’m just so thrilled
to be with you all today.

Thank you for joining us
in this special event.

We’re actually expecting
around 400 people to join us

and it’s so wonderful to have us gather

as a community in this way.

Many who join us in this work

see it as a faith imperative.

God calls us to solidarity
with those on the margins.

And others are drawn to partner with us

because there is a values alignment

and they see the impact
we can all have together.

So as we gather as this community
united in our commitment

to end the cycle of
poverty and disability,

I’d like to acknowledge

the Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander people

as the first peoples
and traditional owners

and custodians of the land and waterways

on which we live and work.

For me, that’s the Wurundjeri
people of the Kulin Nation.

So we honour and pay our
respects to elders past,

present and emerging.

I often refer to CBM’s work
as a movement of the heart,

a movement for justice.

And I found it incredibly confronting

to realise when I joined
CBM that one in six

or 16% of the world’s population

are people who live with a disability.

And 80% of those live in low
and middle income countries.

That’s 1 billion people who are neglected,

isolated, overlooked in all kinds of work,

whether that’s infrastructure
or disaster planning.

These people desperately
need a level playing field.

So my passion is using my
voice to amplify theirs.

And I’m also going to introduce
you now to two members

of the CBM team who you’re
going to hear from today.

Nicole Denton, who’s our head
of fundraising and marketing,

and our public engagement team.

And Julie Smith, who’s a senior
advisor in programme quality

in our programme impact team.

First, we’ll hear from Nicole.

Nicole joined CBM in 2016

and over the past eight years
has travelled to Vietnam,

the Philippines and Nepal
to see CBM’s work firsthand.

It’s here in the poorest regions of Nepal

where Nicole met a happy,

outgoing 8-year-old girl named Yasodha,

who had big dreams for her future.

Nicole invites us into
Yasodha’s story in this video.

Nicole is wearing a green scarf,

has her dark hair pulled
back, and is wearing glasses.

Please enjoy this story.

– Hello, my name is Nicole

and I’ve had the privilege
of working for CBM

for over eight years.

Part of my role is to meet
people with disabilities,

living in poverty in some
of the poorest nations,

telling their stories

of resilience and hope,

the very people whose lives
you are transforming every day.

Recently I travelled to Nepal

where I met Yasodha and her family.

This family truly moved me

despite everything that had
happened to them in their lives.

They were so positive, so hopeful,

and they had a faith that
God would get them through.

Moving on to a really
remote area in Nepal,

we walked down a dusty
track to get to Yasodha

and her family’s home.

(water splashing)

The first thing that
struck me was the damp

and the smell, but also how welcoming

and how proud the family were

having us enter their home.

As we were sitting there
ready to speak to Yasodha

for the very first time,

I heard a loud wailing from behind me.

I turned around

and I could see an elderly lady

emaciated, writhing in pain,

and I was just struck

at how helpless I felt in that moment,

just seeing her there.

Later we learned through
uncovering Yasodha’s story

that this was actually
Yasodha’s grandmother

who was gravely ill and being
cared for by the family.

Upon meeting Yasodha, you
could clearly see her cataract,

a bluey grace circle that
was impeding her vision.

And despite this beautiful
little girl’s upbeat

and cheeky nature, she truly has had

some harrowing things
happen to her in her life.

She was born with a cataract,

but it wasn’t visible to people

until she was around six years old,

which made life difficult for her

to explain what was happening to her.

Unfortunately, around this same time

was the time that her mother abandoned her

and her father Amit.

Not long after, unfortunately,

Amit’s mother became gravely ill.

And although Amit worked
extremely hard in security,

the money was just not enough

to help both Yasodha and Amit’s mother

with a serious and urgent
medical care that they needed.

The family’s faith,

and bond tied them.

And Amit just wanted his
prayers to be answered.

He kept saying again and again,

“I just want her to have a good life.

“I want her to be able
to have an education

“and a better life, but I just
can’t afford this surgery.”

Yasodha loved school but it
all became too difficult.

She wanted to be a policeman
she said, over and over.

And that is the transformation
a cataract surgery

can have on someone’s life.

The only way Yasodha can return to school

and in any way lift herself out of poverty

is through education.

And that is what she so desperately wants

a chance to study, a chance to learn

and a chance to change
her life for the better.

It is a heartbreaking cycle to witness,

but an even better experience
to see a wish fulfilled.

One simple 12 minute surgery

is all it takes to answer her prayers

and change her life forever.

Thank you for caring for
the world’s most vulnerable.

Your support is truly life changing.

(soft music)

– Wow. These powerful stories
really do bring to life

the desperate need for
the work that CBM does

to restore hope

and enable brighter futures
for children like Yasodha.

But you have played a
huge part in this work

and continue to do so.

Restoring the gift of site
is truly life changing.

And with a number of urgent,

heartbreaking cases like Yasodha’s

a very real and constant challenge,

your support is needed right now.

I’m going to hand over to Julie,

who’s our senior advisor
in Programme Quality

and has been part of
the CBM Australia team

for over a decade now.

In that time, Julie has travelled
to many, many communities

to see the programmes in action.

And as part of our effectiveness team,

Julie’s role focuses on evaluating
and monitoring programmes

to ensure the work is as
effective as possible.

So today Julie’s going to speak about

her visit to Kenya last year

and reflect on other
programmes that she’s seen

that address this important work

of ending avoidable blindness.

Over to you Julie.

– Thank you Jane,

and thanks for the privilege

to be able to talk to everybody today.

It’s great to be able to do that.

So I’m a 50 something White woman

with short bob hair and some glasses.

And as Jane said, I’ve
been working with CBM

for about 10 years now,

and my role is around
monitoring and evaluation

to ensure that we have good reviews

and evaluations of the
projects that we fund.

So over the years I’ve seen work

that we’ve been supporting
in many countries

with regard to eye health.

Last year I was lucky
enough to be in Kenya

to lead an evaluation of
one of our programmes,

which included a component of eye support.

And so just picture if you can,

arriving at a rural clinic, dusty roads,

loads of people buzzing around.

And I come across these
banners with logos of CBM

and our partner, which is the

African Inland Church Health Ministries.

And that’s the organisation
that we work with.

And there’s big banners saying,
“Eye clinic heal this week.”

And so we are there for a week long,

what they call an eye clinic,

which they get set up and running

and they put the word out

that there’s going to
be a medical team there

for anybody that needs a
consultation around their eyes,

whether it’s just needing some specs

or whether it’s something
more serious like

what we saw in the situation
for that little girl in Nepal.

And it’s free.

So there’s people arriving,

there’s old ladies on
the backs of motorbikes

driven by their sons,

and there’s people coming in walking

wrapped in bright pink wool and shawls

with babies strapped to their backs.

And they’re meet met by volunteers

who are sort of in vests with clipboards,

showing people different cues

that they need to line up to, to register.

So I got there quite early in the morning

and there was a group of maybe

20, 25 people, mainly people older,

and they’ve all got patches on their eyes

and they’ve had cataract
operations the day before

and they’ve actually slept
overnight in the clinic

on mattresses and been fed
from a big pot of food.

And they’re waiting for us to come along

so they can take off these bandages.

So here they all are looking a bit ragged

after a night sleeping in the clinic

and one by one the ophthalmic
nurse, you can see him here,

walks along and takes the bandages off.

And it was quite a sight, walking along,

seeing these people who suddenly

are kind of blinking with
the brightness of the sun

and then breaking into big beaming smiles

as they realise suddenly
that that blindness

that they’ve been living with

in many cases for years is suddenly gone.

And so not everybody’s old, you know,

this woman’s probably early thirties

and recognises that she’s
got a problem in one eye

and will probably go.

So there’s lots of laughing and clapping

and people are really happy.

So over the course of the week,

those two surgeons were
doing about 200 operations.

And this is the sort of work we do

that’s making such a
fundamental difference

to people’s lives.

Now obviously some people are quite scared

to come and get a cataract operation,

you’re always quite nervous.

And what it’s great to
see is that these people

who’ve had a successful operation

will go back to their village and say,

“Listen, CBM’s supporting these clinics,

“there’s another one in three months.

“You’ve got to get along.”

It can make that difference.

And so we’ve got this ripple effect,

word of mouth effect of ambassadors

that are spreading the word
about what we are doing.

We don’t just focus on cataracts,

even though we do talk about that a lot.

‘Cause that is one of the
big issues for people.

But we also focus on
prevention approaches as well.

For example, you’ve probably
heard about trachoma,

it’s that awful eye disease

that where your eyes
inflame and your eyelashes

turn and scratch your eye retinas out

and people go blind because of that.

And there’s a big push to
eradicate that worldwide.

There’s actually, if you look it up,

there’s a trachoma atlas,

which shows where the hotspots of trachoma

still are around the world
getting smaller every year

thanks to organisations like CBM.

Anyway, preventing that is important.

And you do that by improving
sanitation and hygiene

in communities because
it’s spread by flies.

So in a number of countries
that we’ve been working,

for example, in Ethiopia, in Kenya,

in Nigeria, our Trachoma
programmes are about making sure

that people understand the
links between good hygiene,

good sanitation and disease prevention.

So it’s the same message as
we all were thinking about

during those last years of Covid,

the importance of good sanitation.

And so what we are doing is
working with communities,

working with community health workers

to do things like improving
household toilets,

particularly for households

of people with disabilities.

So can you imagine if
you’re in a basic wheelchair

or if you can’t walk properly,

dragging yourself into a muddy
latrine that’s full of flies

and is basically pretty grotty,

showing people ways to simply fix that

with things like handrails

and little simple water
hand washing facilities.

Those sort of things can
make a big difference

to preventing trachoma
breakouts in communities.

Things like schools,

school toilets is
something else we support

and household hand washing facilities.

So it’s small things like that

that I’ve seen in
Philippines, in Indonesia,

Nepal, Kenya where I’ve worked,

that can make a big difference
in eradicating disease,

diseases that can
basically send kids blind.

And then there’s other prevention issues.

So this is back in Kenya and
you can see that’s the clinic

and see, you can see the
banners in the background.

And this woman came there to meet me

because she’d been another success story.

30 years old, three
beautiful little children.

Two years ago she told me she realised

that she was starting to lose her sight

and she was totally
panicked as you would be,

as was her family, to use lose your sight

as a young mother, not a lot of income

relying on small subsistence farming,

a potential disaster.

And they didn’t know what was the issue.

The issue was actually acute diabetes

that had been undiagnosed.

And it was only through the
connection with this clinic

that we had been supported,
that that issue was identified.

And she got a course of
treatment to turn that around,

otherwise she would’ve lost her sight.

So just imagine.

So things like that,

that are fairly fundamental health issues

for us here in Australia,

diabetes management are just not picked up

in a country like Kenya that
has a poor health system

or people are too poor
to get the treatment

or pay for it in the big city.

So that’s what I want
to emphasise, I suppose,

is that we are working

with existing government health services.

We’re not in the business of
creating parallel services

because if you set up a parallel service

and employ local eye surgeons,

so you know, CBM’s eye service,

you pull those qualified people away

from the government system,
making it even weaker.

So that brain drain thing

is a big issue in developing countries.

If you’ve got a qualified ophthalmologist,

you want to stay and support them

to work with the government
in the rural town

rather than immigrating
to Canada or Australia.

So our work supports these
local health systems,

especially in places
where the health systems

are pretty poor.

And so what we do is we fund them,

those government existing health services

and give them a bit of a supercharge.

So we fund surgeons to do
this work in rural areas

because they’re usually
based in hospitals and towns

and don’t have those
funds to set up a clinic

like I just showed you

for a week in a rural area.

And we pay for things like

upgrades of training
for ophthalmic nurses,

refresher training for staff,

new equipment or upgrades to equipment.

So essentially we are working
with the existing services

to help them have better quality

and a better geographical
reach to reach the poor.

That’s the other thing to note,

not everybody’s going
to get their eyes fixed.

Some people are going to
have irreversible blindness

and if an operations
sadly isn’t successful,

you don’t want to just say kind of,

“Sorry, see you later, off you go.”

We want to make sure
that those sort of people

are connected in and given support

through local organisations
of people with disability

who can help them with
things like counselling,

support, how to develop new skills,

if you’re younger, the
breadwinner in a family

or the mom and dad in
charge of earning an income

to find that you’ve got
irreversible blindness

is devastating.

So some of the work that
we do is supporting people

to help build skills in ways
that they can earn an income

even if they’re blind.

And that’s something that we do too.

So in conclusion, it’s
been such a privilege

to be part of this work,
to see this work firsthand

and to understand, I think the strategic

and thoughtful approach that we take

as to how we make a difference

and it goes without saying a difference

to the people’s lives,
people who really need it.

Access to health is something
that we, in Australia,

you know, we complain about
it, but it’s pretty good.

We take it for granted,

but it’s certainly not
the case everywhere.

And that’s why CBM’s work is so important

and I’d encourage you to
support it as you can.

– Thanks so much, Julie.

Certainly hearing those firsthand accounts

of the commitment,
dedication of country teams,

the doctors, nurses,
community outreach workers,

the partners, all of
these people come together

to ensure our programmes
reach those most in need.

And you certainly bring it to life Julie,

really appreciate it.

Because we only can do this
work with your support.

It’s together that we are
working to achieve a vision

for an inclusive world in which all people

with disabilities enjoy their human rights

and achieve their full potential.

Certainly the scale and
urgency of this kind of work

became really clear to me
when I also visited Kenya

a couple of years ago.

I was able to get outside
Nairobi the capital

and saw one of the eye health
programmes at CBM supporting.

And I was particularly moved speaking

with Rebecca Wenger, Dr. Wenger.

She’s an ophthalmologist
serving a population

of 1.3 million people.

So one ophthalmologist
serving 1.3 million people

and she was remarkable.

She was explaining how
vital the early screening is

in addressing avoidable
blindness and eye diseases,

the sorts of things that
Julie was also describing.

And thanks to a project
now being supported

by compassionate Australians like you,

more nurses, community health
workers are being trained,

ensuring local people are screened

and referred for treatment.

It’s life-changing work and
we only are able to do it

because we are doing it together.

Your support makes an
extraordinary difference.

And I’ve personally seen the power

of that site saving moment.

A great example that comes to mind

of the quiet heroes in this work.

Again, we talk about
the doctors, the nurses,

the community health workers.

I met Dr. Mallick in Bangladesh,
he’s an ophthalmic surgeon

and he’s committed his
life to serving the poor.

He was so thankful for the training

he’d been able to receive
as part of the programme,

and he was utterly focused on
ensuring those most in need

could access the support.

He proudly showed me, you
know, those very big old books,

ledger books, and every person
that he’d ever operated on

over a decade, their
name was in this book.

The date of their
surgery was in this book.

And those books represent
thousands of people

whose site has been restored.

So I stood next to him as
he did cataract surgeries

in a CBM partner clinic.

He’s been there operating six days a week,

travels four hours every day

to and from this outreach
clinic outside Dakar

to operate on people who would otherwise

never get treatment.

So these talented,
committed health workers

are literally bringing
about miracles every day

because it really is
always ordinary people

doing extraordinary things in our world.

Just this week I’ve heard about
an Indonesian man, Calvin,

who’s been needlessly blind for five years

or so through cataracts.

And thanks to a CBM partner in West Timor,

he’ll have surgery next month

and he told us this week

what he’d most missed over these years

was being able to read and
particularly to read his Bible.

So in a month, Calvin
will have cataract surgery

to have his site restored.

That’s what makes your support so vital.

Please call 1-800-678-069.

Now, if you are able to make a gift,

use the QR code on the
screen if that’s easier

because your gift helps the
most marginalised communities

in the poorest places in our world.

And I’d like to personally
thank each of you.

It’s really quite overwhelming

to understand the extent of the support

in the Australian community for this work.

Everyone on this call is
connected in our shared commitment

to end the cycle of poverty and disability

and to build a more inclusive world.

So together we are a
movement of the heart,

together we are love in action.

And everywhere I go from
markets to villages,

to hospitals and schools,

the number one message
that I’m asked to pass on

is heartfelt thanks.

I’ve seen it in the eyes
of so many of the people

that we serve.

So I want to convey that
to you, to thank you

for what you are making
possible in people’s lives.

And I’d like to invite
you to take a pause now

to join me in prayer
or in quiet reflection

as we just think about
what’s possible in our world

when we come together in this way.

Lord, thank you for the
chance to gather first of all

as a community to join in fellowship,

to be connected in this way.

Lord, I pray your blessing
on the ordinary people

doing extraordinary things

in the poorest parts of our world.

The doctors, the nurses,
community health workers,

partners, the country team,

all of them seek every day
to fulfil this mission.

Lord, I want to offer
thanks for your blessings

on everyone who’s gathered on this call

that you touch our lives
and continue to bless us.

Lord, I also want to lift up to you,

the people at the margins,
the people who are invisible,

isolated, excluded in ways that
we can really only imagine.

We pray for people with disabilities

who are in the poorest
communities of our world.

We ask your blessing on them

and we ask your blessing on
this vital mission and work.

In Jesus’ name we pray.

So again, thank you
everyone for joining us.

It really is such an
extraordinary opportunity

to give you an insight,
a window into the world

of what change you are making possible.

So thank you so much for your support.

Bye for now.

(soft music)