Christmas FM listeners fund thousands of sight-saving operations

February 2018
Staff from Sightsavers and Christmas FM hold a giant cheque made out for €214,000.
The gift of sight: a cheque is presented to Sightsavers’ Ciara Smullen by Christmas FM co-founder Walter Hegarty and Michael O’Keeffe from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

Listeners from popular radio station Christmas FM have raised €214,000 for Sightsavers, which will provide 5,944 sight-restoring operations for people in developing countries.

We’re overjoyed with the support we’ve received, and we’d like to thank all our donors for helping to give the gift of sight.

Christmas FM chose Sightsavers as its charity partner for 2017, asking listeners to help raise money to support cataract operations. The station, which was on air from November, shared daily stories of people who lived with preventable blindness but whose sight was able to be restored with a straightforward operation. The radio presenters also played round-the-clock Christmas music in the run-up to the annual Donation Day radiothon.

The fundraising push surpassed the original target of €200,000, which aimed to provide 5,555 cataract operations.

A month after Christmas FM listeners rallied to save sight, people like Mariamo (below) are receiving sight-saving operations, showing the impact your donations can have.

can fund an adult cataract operation to save someone’s sight
Mariamo from Mozambique.
Mariamo with her husband and grandson following her cataract operation, which restored her vision and her independence.

Mariamo’s story

Mariamo from Mozambique had cataracts in both her eyes. Before she became blind she loved walking, visiting her friends and going to pray. But since losing her sight, she depended on her husband to help and guide her everywhere – even around her own home.

Mariamo is 64 years old and lives on Mozambique Island, about 180km east of the capital, Nampula. Two years ago she noticed her vision was getting worse and she started suffering from headaches: her sight gradually deteriorated until she was blind in both eyes. After visiting a Sightsavers-supported health centre to have her eyes checked, she was diagnosed with cataracts and referred for surgery.

“After I wake up from the operation, my husband took me to the toilet with my eye closed,” she explained. “I washed my face, and when I opened my eye I realised I could see.

“The first thing I said to my husband was: ‘Before, I was losing you. I can see you now – it was a long time without seeing your face.’ I cannot believe I can see. Now I am able to look after myself. Praise the lord!”

Your donations are helping to transform the lives of people like Mariamo.

Thank you for giving the gift of sight with Christmas FM.

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