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Key Messages & Objectives
VFB is a charity seeking to eliminate avoidable blindness in the Tea Gardens of Bangladesh. The priority is to find very young children going blind from cataract and provide corrective surgery, but also children needing glasses to enable them to stay in education. VFB also seeks to help adults going prematurely blind from cataract so that they can continue to work and provide for the family.
WHAT WE DO:
VFB has trained up and supports a children’s field worker to systematically work through the Tea Gardens to find the children under 5 years old who are losing sight. This is done through door-to door knocking and testing the children’s vision in their homes. Transport is provided to BNSB eye hospital in Moulvibazar where corrective surgery is given.
VFB arranges regular eye screening camps (clinics) for primary school age children, and funds corrective surgery or provision of glasses as appropriate.
Once a month (approximately) VFB arranges for a professional eye hospital team to go into a Tea Garden where the adult workers are encouraged to attend an eye assessment clinic. Transport is provided to BNSB eye hospital for those needing cataract surgery and all surgery costs and provision of glasses or medicine is funded by VFB.
Two health care assistants have been trained and are supported by VFB to systematically engage with mothers either in small groups or as individuals and to educate them in basic childcare, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation. Vitamin and iron tablets are given as appropriate.
HOW WE DO IT:
As a registered charity VFB is wholly dependent on the generous support of individual donors and with grants provided by sympathetic charitable trusts, which enable it to fund:
All aspects of finding the children/adults who are going blind in the Tea Gardens.
All transport needed to BNSB hospital for those needing professional examination.
All treatment necessary in the way of surgery, glasses or medicine.
An education programme for long term health benefits within the community.
WHY WE DO IT:
The 400,000 Tea Garden population are socially, politically and economically marginalised from Bangladesh society. They have no access to modern healthcare, and 90% are illiterate. 80% of the Tea Garden people are stunted and underweight and deprived of adequate nutrition which is especially important during pregnancy and early childhood. Vitamin A is also essential for development of sight in a child; 5% of the children have some degree of visual loss, the extreme being blindness. VFB is the only charity currently active in helping these impoverished people in the Tea Gardens around Moulvibazar.
LONG TERM STRATEGY:
To educate and show a forgotten and impoverished people how to eliminate avoidable blindness and other illness through their nutritional intake, sanitation and health awareness. Also to demonstrate how to recognise the signs of visual loss and where to access professional help. The level of support donations given through VFB determines the number of Tea Gardens accessed and people helped to secure a better future for themselves and their families.
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