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Himalayan Cataract Project E-News: March 2010

March has been a busy and exciting month for HCP. In this month’s newsletter you will read about:

  • Bestselling author of “Three Cups of Tea” discusses new book about HCP Co-Directors Drs. Tabin and Ruit
  • HCP’s Dr. Sanduk Ruit heralded as “God of Sight to the Poor” in AP articles
  • Successful training of four Nigerians at Tilganga
  • Continued cataract work in Mekelle, Ethiopia
  • Eye Hospital in Ghana receives green light from USAID
  • Snowbird event raises over $180,000
  • Fourth grader in New Jersey raises $50 in quarters for HCP!

David Oliver Relin discusses his new book about HCP Co-Founders and Co-Directors Drs. Tabin and Ruit and their efforts to cure preventable blindness

Last week Jeff Baker of The Oregonian wrote that author David Oliver Relin’s new book is “even more interesting than his last." This is high praise for his new book entitled “See How They Shine” considering his last book was “Three Cups of Tea," a New York Times Bestseller for over two years.

“See How They Shine” will be published in 2011 and is about Drs. Tabin and Ruit (and HCP) going into the poorest parts of the world and restoring sight to millions of people suffering from preventable blindness. Mr. Baker compares the subjects of his two books:

"There are similarities between "Three Cups of Tea" and "See How They Shine." Like Mortenson, what Tabin and Ruit are doing is improving people's lives through a common-sense, low-cost approach that empowers local people. A major part of the Himalayan Cataract Project involves training others to perform the surgery, and the work is done in places where people don't have access to regular medical care."

Stay tuned for more information on the upcoming book and click here to read the full article in The Oregonian.

HCP’s Dr. Sanduk Ruit heralded as “God of Sight to the Poor” in Associated Press articles

HCP Co-Director Dr. Sanduk Ruit is lauded for his efforts to eradicate blindness amongst the world’s poor in a recent AP article appearing in the New York Times, the Washington Post and MSNBC. The article highlights the innovative cataract surgery technique that Dr. Ruit developed and his commitment to training eye care providers who will carry this effort forward. He is quoted as saying, “You realize there are drops which make an ocean.”

The article features a cataract workshop at the Hetauda Community Eye Hospital, a center that the HCP helped to establish and continues to support.

Here are some places where you can read the Associated Press article: MSNBC, or the Seattle Times, or The Guardian.

Four Nigerians trained in Small Incision Cataract Surgery at Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology



Nigerian ophthalmologist Dr. Oluwatoyin Helen Onakpoya and Nurse Sodeke Abidemi Olabisi.

Four Nigerians recently arrived at the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology (TIO) for a four-week skills transfer education course in Small Incision Cataract Surgery (SICS). Through the training, they have worked at TIO and participated in an Outreach Microsurgical Eye Camp (OMEC). During the course of their training, the team performed approximately 60 SICS surgeries and are now prepared to return to their home hospital and incorporate SICS into their practice. The Nigerian training has been a joint initiative with TIO, HCP and ORBIS International.

HCP Affiliated Ophthalmologist Dr. Paul Imperia participates in cataract workshop in Mekelle, Ethiopia



Dr. Imperia in Ethiopia.

Dr. Paul Imperia, colleague of HCP Board Member Dr. Matt Oliva and HCP Affiliated Ophthalmologist, has just returned from a successful cataract workshop at the Quiha Zonal Hospital in Mekelle, Ethiopia.Joining Dr. Imperia was ophthalmic technician Nolan Sargent. Dr. Imperia and Mr. Sargent joined partners at Quiha in a cataract workshop during which 3,380 patients were screened and surgery was provided to 727 patients.

Dr. Imperia is the newest HCP Affiliated Ophthalmologist and is particularly interested in developing refractive surgery techniques in the developing world to reduce the severe visual disability that exists amongst those who have no access to glasses. HCP welcomes Dr. Imperia and looks forward to benefiting from his expertise.

Good news for Ghana Teaching Hospital


HCP celebrates a milestone in the development of the teaching hospital in Kumasi, Ghana, with USAID’s most recent approval – the green light to “put the project out to bid." In April, HCP CEO Job Heintz will travel to Ghana to review bids with our partners to select the builder.

This new facility, integrated as part of an existing hospital, will serve as a training site for ophthalmologists and eye care specialists from throughout the west African region.

This is very exciting as HCP is one step closer to having a regional training center for West Africa enabling countless more ophthalmologists and technicians to be trained in modern eye care without extensive travel involved. Construction is due to commence in May.

Event at Snowbird raises over $180,000 to support blindness eradication in the developing world



Erik Weihenmayer presenting at Snowbird.


Randall Olson, Job Heintz, John Moran, and Jessica & Mike Feilmeier.

On Saturday, February 27th, the Snowbird Renaissance Center in Utah hosted a successful fundraiser to support blindness alleviation efforts in the developing world. The event was a collaboration between the Snowbird Renaissance Center, the University of Utah’s John A. Moran Eye Center and the HCP. Generous pledges from attendees included funding to support:

  • Training international ophthalmologists in modern eye care and modern surgical techniques through an exchange program at a US academic institution
  • Two eye care interventions for the Millennium Villages Project in Africa
  • Surgical operating microscopes for two program sites
  • Over 200 cataract surgeries and consumables for an additional 500 surgeries

Dr. Geoff Tabin provided an update of HCP’s recent activities and introduced the featured guest, friend and fellow mountaineer Erik Weihenmayer. Erik is the only blind person in history to reach the summit of Mount Everest. He gave an inspiring slideshow to over 500 attendees and helped the event raise three times the funds it had raised in the previous year.

Fourth grader in New Jersey raises $50 in quarters for HCP!



Maia with her hand-made poster.

Many thanks to Maia Finkel and her dad Adam Finkel who raised $50 in quarters for the HCP at the Toll Gate Grammar School in Pennington, New Jersey.

As part of their efforts, they organized a game of skill where kids put on glasses covered in wax paper to simulate cataracts and tried to throw magnetic darts at a dartboard.  THANK YOU MAIA!




A cataract patient in Rwanda. Ace Kvale photo.

The Himalayan Cataract Project works to eradicate preventable and curable blindness through high quality ophthalmic care, education and the establishment of a world-class eye care infrastructure.

Please visit our Web site at www.cureblindness.org to keep up with the latest HCP news. There you will also find information on HCP’s finances, its founders, staff and board members, and ways that you can give the gift of sight.

Remember, through the Himalayan Cataract Project it takes a gift of only $20 to provide life-changing cataract surgery to someone struggling with blindness in the developing world.

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