In Pakistan alone there are 18.7 million blind and visually impaired people out of which 2.6 million are children who can be easily cured by simple procedures including cataract which is the major cause of blindness and can be treated for as low as $ 81 for a child at LRBT probably less than you would spend on a dinner/iftar at a restaurant.
The reality for most blind and visually impaired people in Pakistan is that they have little or no hope of accessing treatment or information on what preventable measures they should take mostly due to unaffordability and inaccessibility to quality eye care. They are often subjected to a life of begging on the streets or need permanent support of their already over stretched families.
There is a strong linkage between blindness/impaired vision and poverty. A blind person is dependent on his family for his/her needs. So not only is there a reduction in the family income as a result of their disability but a family member is also diverted from productive work to act as a caregiver. A study by Sightsavers International has estimated that the annual loss of productivity caused by the 1.8 million people who are blind in Pakistan and are therefore not gainfully employed is Rs 69 billion which is 0.8 % of the GDP.
In this array of darkness THE LAYTON RAHMATULLA BENEVOLENT TRUST (LRBT) has emerged as the only ray of hope for the poor blind. LRBT is the largest provider of Free Eye-care in Pakistan devoted to the prevention of curable blindness and impaired vision in people who live around the poverty line. It was established 30 years ago by 2 retiring businessmen Graham Layton & Zaka Rahmatulla who out of their love for humanity wanted to give back to the community upon their retirement.
During our 30 years of existence over 30 million patients visited our OPDs and over 3 million surgeries were carried out. We are, according to an independent estimate the largest provider of Eye care in the country treating 36 % of all eye patients visiting OPD of hospitals, performing 27 % of all eye surgeries & 32 % of all Paediatric cataract surgeries.
All treatment as well as surgery at LRBT is totally free so that no man, woman or child should go blind simply because they cannot afford the treatment. LRBT has touched & improved the lives of more people than any other NGO in Pakistan. Help us Help More!
"The words pounded like drumbeat in my head. No cure, no stopping it unless you undergo corneal transplant" Athar, 19, reveals the trauma of going blind as a result of corneal opacity.
Athar’s mother told us that the signs of his condition were appearing shortly after he turned 10. Not just him but his three sisters also suffer from corneal opacity, which afflicts 14 % of the blind population in Pakistan. There is no treatment for Cornel opacity except that the person undergoes Corneal Grafting, an extremely expensive surgery that also requires a donor cornea.
Athar grew up in a poor locality of Malir Town, Karachi Pakistan with his four sisters. All of them attended a government school in their locality. His father had fits of depression and had taken early retirement and it was his mother who was determined to send all her children to school and worked day and night as a tailor. She had always dreamt of a better future for her children but her dreams shattered when one by one four of her five children started losing sight around the age of 10, with their eyes turning cloudy. His sisters continued school for a few more years but a stage came when gradually all of them dropped out due to visual difficulties. The desperate mother took Athar to an ophthalmologist before he reached that stage, but lost all hope when the doctor told them that there was no cure except for corneal grafting which costs $385 /- per eye. This was simply beyond their means and the grieving mother returned home with her son, who instead of becoming her support had become a burden.
It's a life, Athar once thought, he'd rather die than face. 'I just couldn’t imagine living into adulthood with this condition,' he told our staff. He tried to deal with the fear of dropping out from school by studying harder than usual but in vain, leaving him more desperate and depressed. Seeing his sisters who had turned almost blind he lost all hope as he could see himself heading in the same direction.
Then something happened that changed his life forever. A LRBT School Screening team in one of their routine visits, visited his school and discovered his corneal opacity. He was referred to LRBT’s Korangi Hospital in Karachi. There, after a thorough checkup, he was put on the waiting list of patients awaiting cornea donations. His sisters were also brought to the hospital and were also put on the waiting list. A ray of hope flickered in their lives and they prayed to God for a miracle. A couple of days later the lucky four received a call from the hospital informing them that 4 corneas have been received, requesting them to visit the hospital immediately. Hopeful yet scared they came to the hospital and were admitted for their surgery which was performed the very next day. The corneas were implanted successfully and while some vision returned a few days after surgery, it took almost 8 months before their full vision was restored, which is common in cases of corneal transplants. Upon his last follow up visit, Athar told us that he could not believe he was able to see again.
Ather and his sisters can now see and their hearts are filled with gratitude and praise for LRBT, its doctors and the generous donors. Ather is back in school now and has also found a part time job to support his mother’s income. One of his sisters has rejoined school whereas the eldest one has found a decent job in a bank. From the depth of darkness & despair Athar and his sisters have emerged into the bright light of hope. They had all accepted it as kismet but were fortunate enough to have access to LRBT which changed their lives forever.
Help us change the lives of millions more like Athar and his sisters. Help us turn them into productive members for their families and society. Help us offer them a future.
You would be pleased to know that out of our targeted 1030 child sight restoration surgeries 170 children have already been given the Gift of Sight through your generous donations. These children would now be able to achieve their full potential and lead a normal life and so would be their parents. We are extremely grateful to you all for your generosity.
Baby Laiba, daughter of Islam ud din belongs to a poor family and lives in liaqutabad .She is 12 years old now but when she started facing eye problem she was in kindergarten but due to lack of knowledge and money the parents did not take her to any eye doctor. Now she is in grade sixth and her vision has become very blurred. She is also a heart patient since birth due to which her immune system is very weak as compared to any child her age. Recently, seeing the deteriorating condition of her eye sight her parents consulted a private doctor who diagnosed her with cataract but since the costs were high for the surgery and they were very needy the doctor referred them to LRBT. Before she had developed cataract, her vision was perfect and she could see clearly but with passage of time it started deteriorating. At LRBT, she was thoroughly examined and was given a date for her cataract surgery. After her successful surgery, she was told to revisit the hospital after 2 weeks for follow up.Now her sight has been fully recovered. She is a girl with high spirits and big plans for her future. She wants to become a doctor and serve poor people of Pakistan.
Her parents were all prayers and very thankful to the doctors and donors of LRBT that helped give Laiba a new life, free from dependency, where she can enjoy and see every color of life.
Help us help more!
We are extremely delighted to inform our donors and supporters of the project "Help 2.6 million blind/visually impaired children" that to date this project has given back Sight to 8 visually impaired children. One of the beneficiaries is our 28 millionth patient Asra. Asra,6 years old, daughter of Zahid Ali who works in a garment factory as an office attendant. He earns Rs.8.000/- a month and has 5 children. They live in a small rented `house in the eastern part of Karachi. Asra is the 2nd child of Zahid and his first daughter, so very dear to him.
When Asra was 1 year old squint in her left eye was diagnosed, as her left eye ball was pointed upwards and made it extremely difficult for her to see and focus without pain and strained the vision. With such limited income and so many mouths to feed, treating Asra was out of question due to the costs involved. The devastated family was left with no option but to accept it as fate. Zahid and his wife used to cry seeing Asra in pain and her aspiration to go to school. 5 years passed and Asra remained at home with the eye ailment .Recently while the family was going through its worst financial crisis ever, God sent great news for the distressed family. It is truly said that God has his own ways to test people and does it only till one can bear.
During the recent polio drive by the Government, a polio worker came to their house to check if there were children to be vaccinated. During the conversation with polio agent Asra’s eye disease was discussed and Zahid’s wife was informed about LRBT and its free eye care facilities for the poor. She could not believe her ears and immediately called Zahid from the factory and shared the news. Zahid was also surprised to find about LRBT and being unaware about such a facility that existed even though he was resident of Karachi. The very next day Asra was taken to LRBT Korangi hospital and after through eye examination the doctor informed that her squint was operable. The poor parents couldn’t control their tears and kept hugging Asra. Zahid and his wife were still doubtful that it would be done absolutely free. On the given date Asra was successfully operated and her left eye squint was rectified. When the bandage was removed it was a moment to experience and one would become more certain of God’s miracles. Zahid went on his knees to thank the doctors and staff and the mother kept shedding tears of happiness with folded hands and kept thanking LRBT for restoring their daughter’s sight and saving her from a dark future.To learn more about LRBT, please visit : www.lrbt.org.pkFacebook:lrbt.pakistan
We are extremely delighted to inform our donors and supporters of the project "Help 2.6 million blind/visually impaired children" that to date this project has given back Sight to 12 blind/ visually impaired children. One of the beneficiaries is our 27 millionth patient Ibrahim.
5 years old Ibrahim is the only child of Mehtab and Murtaza who was born after 11 long years of their marriage. Since his birth, Ibrahim was the sole centre of attention for his parents, but for some reason it was impossible to guard him from excessive crying and clinging due to which Mehtab found it extremely difficult to perform her household chores. When Ibrahim was 7 months old his parents noticed some whiteness in his eyes and realized that their son had some vision problem. Living in the slums of Quetta, Murtaza was a daily wage laborer who earned barely enough money to feed his family. He borrowed money from his friend and took Ibrahim to a private hospital where he was disappointed to find out that Ibrahim had Cataract by birth and the only way to restore his vision was by performing his sight restoration Cataract Surgery that would cost him $300 for each eye. There was no way he could afford this expense and felt extremely helpless. He often blamed himself for his son’s plight and prayed to God for a miracle. Years passed by and Ibrahim’s vision further deteriorated making him socially isolated as he didn’t want to mingle with other children who called him names owing to his blindness. His parents were also distressed, however his fate was destined to change when an old friend of Murtaza came to visit him and seeing his son’s problem told him about LRBT free eye hospital in Quetta. Murtaza was extremely happy to hear this and took Ibrahim to the hospital the very next day. At LRBT hospital Quetta Ibrahim was thoroughly examined and was given a date for his surgery. The nervous parents brought him on the given date and Ibrahim was successfully operated. The news of his successful surgery brought relief to the disturbed parents who burst into tears and were lost for words. They were deeply thankful LRBT staff and its generous donors for restoring their son’s sight and saving him from a dark future. Visit us : www.lrbt.org.pk
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