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FUNDRAISING

Delegates attending the XXX ESCRS Congress are supporting ORBIS and Oxfam

The president of the ESCRS, Peter Barry, is urging delegates attending the XXX ESCRS Congress in Milan to contribute to fundraising projects organised by ORBIS and Oxfam. "Charitable initiatives are very important for the society and our support of ORBIS and Oxfam has been very rewarding," said Dr Barry. A total of 33,500 was donated to the two charities in 2011. Funds were initially raised from delegates when registering for the 15th ESCRS Winter Meeting in Istanbul, Turkey and the XXIX ESCRS Congress in Vienna, Austria. Additional funds were raised from a raffle at the Vienna congress. The ESCRS Board also donated an additional 25,000 from the society's funds. Delegates can pledge money to the charities when they register for this year's congress and on-site donations will also be accepted in Milan. The two charities will have a booth at the congress where delegates can get more information on the ORBIS and Oxfam projects.

ORBIS in Ethiopia
Money donated by the society to ORBIS is helping to fund paediatric training for Dr Mulusew Asferaw, an ophthalmologist working in the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Gondar, Ethiopia. In addition Dr Asamere Tsegaw has been selected for retina subspecialty training. The first part of Dr Asferaw's sub-specialty training took place in November 2011 when he attended a 10-day training programme at Menelik Hospital in Addis Ababa, run by an ORBIS volunteer, Irish ophthalmologist Dr Donal Brosnahan. This was paid for out of the ESCRS funding.

Dr Asferaw points out the impact of widespread childhood blindness in Ethiopia. "This creates a burden to the members of the family and has an adverse economic impact in the country," he said. "If we are able to detect childhood eye disorders early and give appropriate and timely intervention, we can avoid unnecessary childhood blindness, enhancing the growth and development of the next generation. It is because of this objective that I chose to study paediatric ophthalmology," he said. ESCRS is delighted to be funding Dr Asferaw, Dr Tsegaw and their head of department Dr Yared Assefa to attend the annual congress in Milan.

Oxfam in Uganda
ESCRS has helped to prevent the spread of diseases such as cholera and trachoma in the Kitgum and Lamwo districts of Uganda by donating to an Oxfam project which is developing new sustainable water supplies and empowering communities to manage these resources through training schemes and public health initiatives. Oxfam Ireland's chief executive Jim Clarken said: "The generosity of ESCRS members and the ESCRS Board has delivered real change to the communities of Kitgum and Lamwo. By supporting Oxfam and our partners in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion (WASH) project, ESCRS has provided effective and sustainable water sources as part of a major investment in public health," he said.

Thanks to ESCRS, Oxfam and its WASH partners can help a community rebuild itself as families return following a 20-year conflict between rebels and government forces that forced them to flee and live in camps. Poor access to latrine and sanitation facilities coupled with a lack of information about the importance of good hygiene leads to unnecessary illnesses and deaths from diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea. Investment by ESCRS has helped combat the spread of these water-borne diseases along with water-washed diseases that affect the eyes, such as trachoma and conjunctivitis.


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