The Virgin Group’s not-for-profit foundation, Virgin Unite, has pledged its support to international development organisation Sightsavers in a bid to help it achieve its goal of performing one million sight-restoring cataract operations by 2018.
Established last October, Sightsavers’ A Million Miracles appeal aims to raise enough funds over a three-year period to facilitate one million cataract surgeries for people living in developing countries.
Virgin Unite’s £133,000 commitment of support to the initiative will focus on helping to deliver thousands of life-changing cataract operations in Bangladesh and Tanzania.
As a leading cause of blindness, more than 20 million people across the world are blind as a result of cataracts.
Commenting on the partnership, founder of Virgin Unite, Sir Richard Branson, said: “For so many of us, eyesight is something we simply take for granted. However, millions of people around the world live with blindness. I’m proud that Virgin Unite is supporting Sightsavers to help fund its efforts to restore sight to people in Bangladesh and Tanzania.
“Being able to see again, or for the first time will have an instant-life changing impact and I’m delighted to support this worthy cause.”
The A Million Miracles initiative was launched simultaneously across all countries where it has a fundraising presence, including the UK, Ireland, Italy, Sweden and the US, on World Sight Day last year. To mark the beginning of the appeal the charity streamed a cataract procedure live as it took place in Malawi.
CEO of Sightsavers, Dr Caroline Harper, said: “We are over the moon to be able to announce this partnership with Virgin Unite. Its support will help blind people in Tanzania and Bangladesh to see again.
“Cataract surgery is incredibly cost effective and a straightforward operation can transform the lives of people and their families, literally overnight. I know what it can mean for someone to see their grandchild for the first time or for a mother to find out that her child will not be blind after all, as the problem can be cured. I was thrilled when I heard Richard Branson felt as strongly about this as I do and wanted to help.“We look forward to working with Virgin Unite into the future. We believe it is unjust for people to live with blindness if it can easily be treated.”
Image credit: Rachel Palmer, Sightsavers