Sightsavers’ Aid Match appeal, which ran over Christmas 2019, raised £4,028,000, including £2 million of match funding from the UK government.
The appeal ran between October 2019 and January 2020 and raised money towards Sightsavers’ End is in Sight campaign. All donations from generous supporters were matched by the government’s UK Aid Match fund up to £2 million.
The End is in Sight campaign aims to consign trachoma, a potentially blinding disease, to the history books. Repeated infections of trachoma can cause the eyelashes to turn inwards and scrape painfully against the eyeball, eventually leading to irreversible blindness. More than 137 million people are at risk of trachoma worldwide. Yet it is treatable with an antibiotic at a cost of as little as 15p per treatment and is close to elimination in many countries.
Ella Pierce, Sightsavers’ director of fundraising and marketing, says: “Trachoma has already been eliminated as a public health problem in several countries and it’s possible to see it gone forever. Thanks to global collaboration and generous donors, millions of people no longer live with the pain, suffering and blindness it can cause. However, millions more are still at risk of trachoma, so there is still work to be done.
“We want to raise awareness of this horrific disease and encourage global communities to come together and end it. We’re incredibly grateful to the public for their support of this appeal, and of course to the UK government for doubling those donations.”
The appeal was launched on World Sight Day with an interactive photography exhibition, BLINK, which took place in London in October 2019. As visitors viewed the digital photos in the exhibition, every blink they made caused the images to change, leaving the photos permanently altered. The results were unpredictable and unknown: an artistic interpretation of the vision loss that trachoma can cause. BLINK has since acquired a clutch of awards, including winning the “Most innovative event” in the 2020 Charity Event Awards.
The appeal unlocked UK Aid Match funds to support eye health projects in Uganda and Malawi. Sightsavers has had to make some minor adaptations to its plans to work around limitations posed by COVID-19, but happily the work can go ahead to deliver eye care services, particularly for marginalised groups including women and people living with disabilities. Sightsavers will provide eye examinations, deliver treatments and perform operations in local communities, which will help to improve eye health in the long term.