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ACS Egham students travel to India on sight-saving charity assignment

Published Wednesday 15th of April 2015 10:04:36 AM

ACS Egham International School students, Amara Le and Shania Ali, aged 17, spent their Easter holidays a little differently this year, embarking on a sight saving mission to India.

The project, now entering its fifteenth year, is part of a journalism internship sponsored by ACS International Schools Foundation and Orbis, a global sight-saving charity working to improve access to eye care by training local eye care teams in developing countries.

Amara and Shania were joined on the trip by two other ACS students, Rosie Croysdale from ACS Hillingdon and Shreya Gupta from ACS Cobham.

The four students visited local vision centres, schools and long-term eye care projects to witness the impact of Orbis's work and gain an insight into the challenges of developing eye care facilities where the need is so great. India has one of the highest blindness rates in the world; eight million people are entirely blind, of which 320,000 are children.

Impressed by the local centres, Shania commented:

'Visiting the training centres made a great impression on me. The girls in training, who are from rural areas, both help to improve the lives of the visually impaired, and develop their own skills and build confidence. It was fascinating to see the extensive difference Orbis makes to many lives.

'There was such a passion for learning at the training centres and everybody was so open and welcoming; it was incredibly inspiring.'

The students were awarded their places on the trip following a rigorous application process. This involved a written application and an interview with a panel of six representatives from ACS International Schools, ACS International Schools Foundation and Orbis.

On their trip, the students attended a screening at an eye camp, set up in a rural area where eye care is not easily accessible. As well as local vision centres, students visited Dr Shroff's Charity Eye Hospital, which Orbis has been supporting and building up children's eye health services since 2002. This allowed the students to experience first-hand the difference Orbis can make to people's lives.

Amara admired the positive outlook at the eye camp, commenting:

'Everybody was so appreciative of the treatment they received, whether it was an eye examination, cataract screening or basic cataract surgery. Patients saw their diagnosis, regardless of the extent of the matter, as an opportunity to improve their lives, rather than something to dwell upon. This approach was both inspiring and humbling.'

Florence Branchu, Orbis Corporate Partnerships Manager commented:

'Orbis is delighted to be supported by the ACS International Schools again this year, bringing our partnership well into its second decade and over £300,000 worth of sight-saving support. What's great about this relationship is that ACS have not only substantially funded our work, but Orbis has also been able to showcase the impact of their fantastic support direct to their students.

Through this annual internship we are able to educate the lucky students and their peers about the issue of preventable blindness in developing countries. By doing so, we hope to inspire the next generation of medics and Orbis ambassadors.'

During their time in Delhi, the students wrote extensively about their experiences. You can find out what they saw and read their blogs here:
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