Hundreds of thousands of people in the developing world are suffering from blindness or visual impairment due to a lack of one of the world’s most basic resources and a Calgary-based organization, including the efforts of one man, is trying to change that.
Rob Ohlson, the chairman for Operation Eyesight Universal, an organization dedicated to the prevention of avoidable blindness and the restoration of sight, has been going the extra mile to raise funds for his group.
He is credited with bringing in huge donations for the Washing Away Blindness campaign that aims to provide clean water to villages throughout Zambia and protect them from the devastating trachoma, a bacterial eye infection that leads to blindness.
He says he joined to celebrate the life of his father.
“It was a way to celebrate his life and his career in India with the Bob Ohlson Centre for Sight Enhancement. I was just immediately struck by the impact that Operation Eyesight had.”
In addition to raising money from donors, Ohlson has been matching donations and has come up with $485,000 so far.
Those funds are used to drill water wells for 24 of Zambia’s most vulnerable communities.
The clean water helps stop the spread of trachoma by allowing people to wash their hands and faces properly.
Brian Foster, the executive director for Operation Eyesight, says he is very happy with Ohlson’s involvement.
“He brings a lot of energy to the table and he’s very involved with us as individuals and he pretty well knows everyone in our office… he’s pretty familiar with us all.”
Ohlson says the work is very rewarding too, especially when it comes to seeing the change that clean, fresh water brings to an African village.
“A lot of these areas are fairly dry, specifically in Zambia where we’re doing a lot of wells. You go back a year or two later and it’s just lush and green and the population is growing and it’s phenomenal.”
For all he does to combat blindness in developing countries, Rob Ohlson is our Inspired Albertan this week.