A Hayward’s Heath charity has been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and working to help some of the world’s poorest people in the recovery.
As the pandemic resulted in global school closures many of the world’s most marginalised children, especially those with disabilities, were at risk of missing out on education.
Local charity Sightsavers has been working with partners and governments across Africa and Asia to ensure that hundreds of children with disabilities have been able to continue learning and keep safe during the crisis. This has been supported with funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Dr Caroline Harper, CEO of Sightsavers, said:
“Our sight-saving and disability rights work spans over 30 countries. COVID-19 meant many programmes were suspended and we used our knowledge and resources to support people in these countries during the pandemic (e.g. providing hygiene messaging and help for health workers). Programmes are slowly restarting now after careful risk assessment, and our COVID-19 support work continues.
“Sightsavers couldn’t do the work we do without our loyal supporters and People’s Postcode Lottery players. We are very touched by all the messages and positivity we have received, and we hope that you will continue to support us through this uncertain period so we can keep helping those who need us.”
In Sierra Leone, a country that has already faced years of disruption due to the Ebola crisis, funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery has meant that over 800 children with disabilities have been given assistance during school closures. Children have been provided with radios to listen to lessons and parents have been assisted in how to support their education at home.
In countries where Sightsavers already works in preventing avoidable blindness and supporting healthcare systems, they have also been using their expertise and networks to provide information about COVID-19. This includes behaviour change messaging around hand hygiene, social distancing and wearing masks. Information about eye health and care have also been aired on radio.
In Nigeria, funding raised by players has provided health messaging and PPE and even enabled an eye clinic to safely reopen and perform surgeries for children who have developed cataracts due to accident or injury. Nine-year-old Destiny was one of those children at risk of going blind before receiving his cataract surgery in August.
Sightsavers works in over 30 developing countries to prevent avoidable blindness, treat and eliminate neglected tropical diseases, and promote the rights of people with disabilities. Thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the charity has received over £6.5million since 2018, part of which has been repurposed to COVID-19 adaptations.