TOMS Eyewear launched in 2011, seeking to provide solutions for preventable blindness around the world. We are proud to announce that we have reached the milestone of helping to restore sight for 500,000 individuals. We couldn’t have done it without our amazing TOMS supporters and our Sight Giving Partners.
Today’s story comes to us from Sight Giving Partner, Seva Foundation and their Seva Storyteller, Maggie Vizcarra. Read on to learn more about the impact we are making together:
Imagine 500,000 individuals having a life changing experience. This isn’t the ‘wow that was a good cup of coffee’ experience. I am talking about the ‘yesterday I could not see, but when I woke up this morning I could’ kind of life changing experience. Now imagine 500,000 moms, daughters, grandparents, sons and fathers who are living vastly different lives today than they were a few years ago. Why? Because with the TOMS community and its generous One-for-One Sight Giving Program, we made that happen together, our network provided 500,000 people with sight-saving services.
In a world where social justice work can feel like a slow slog and we are often not even sure of the impact of our work, I feel fortunate to be at a place like Seva. Here, I am grounded by knowing that I am part of a team providing a solution that transforms a life within minutes. Our partnership with TOMS is rooted in that same knowledge, and we have worked together to provide sight-saving solutions since the inception of the TOMS Sight Giving Program in 2011.
On my first trip for Seva, I visited an eye care center in the mountains of Eastern Nepal to document our partner’s work preventing blindness and restoring sight in communities with limited or no access to eye care services. Over the course of a few days, I witnessed the ophthalmologist do forty or fifty sight-restoring surgeries – frankly, she did so many that I lost count. To this day, one woman stands out clearly in my memory. She was an older woman who had been brought to the hospital by her daughter. She was completely blind, unable to walk on her own, led everywhere by her daughter’s hand. When I first saw her, the mother was sitting hunched over, looking vacantly down towards the floor, interacting with no one.
After an eye exam with the ophthalmologist, the mother was diagnosed with cataract in both eyes. A quick surgery that same day would allow her to see again.
The following morning, the ophthalmologist removed the bandage. Blinking as her vision began to uncloud, the mother brought her hands first to her own face, then reached out to touch her daughter. I like to imagine how she must have felt in that moment – the inexplicable joy of seeing your daughter’s face for the first time in years. A light came on behind her eyes. She sat up straighter, looked with wonder into the faces of everyone around her, and pressed her palms together to give Namaste. Later that day, I watched mother and daughter walk away from the hospital with wide smiles, a new life of independence within reach for the both of them.
The transforming effect that sight restoration had on both of their lives left me near speechless. It becomes more humbling to consider that this was one example of many, many more stories – the vast majority of which I will never witness firsthand like this one.
In the same way that I saw these lives transformed forever in that moment, I believe we helped transform each of those 500,000 individuals and at least another 500,000 more who had to dedicate so much time to taking care of their loved ones. Real change happens one person at a time. In the case of our work with our partners, each service is capable of changing lives forever.
So for the million and more individuals out there who might not be able to tell you for themselves, allow me to offer my sincerest congratulations to Blake and the dedicated TOMS community for achieving this major milestone. We look forward to the next 500,000 people whose sight we can save – One-for-One, one person at a time, transforming their world forever.