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Catholics initiate project to help blind people in Karnataka



April 14, 2014 - Some 2,000 members of a Catholic parish in southern India’s Bangalore city have pledged to donate their eyes marking the launch of a state-wide programme to help blind people. The programme launched on April 6 in St Thomas Forane Church was part of Project Vision, which aims to help some 600,000 blind people in Karnataka, said Fr. George Kannanthanam, the founder-director of the project. Some 600 parishioners also signed up as volunteers to work for the project. Fr Thomas Kallukulam, the parish priest of St. Thomas, handed over the signed pledges to Fr. Kannanthanam, The members of the parish's St. Vincent De Paul Society coordinated the programme.
India is home to some 15 million of the world's 39 million blind people, Father Kannanthanam told the gathering. Though country needs 140,000 cornea transplants, only 35,000 donated and collected. This means more than 100,000 people are added to the waiting list every year. Out of the 430,000 who died in Karnataka last year, only 3,500 persons have donated their eyes, he said.
As part of the project volunteers will create awareness on the need of donating eyes, and the simplicity of the process of extracting them from bodies for the benefit of the blind people. His initiative comes after he spent 12 years with several blind people in Sumanahalli, an enclave he developed for destitute people, most affected by leprosy. He said the new project is conceived as a movement involving all different religions and classes of the society.
The volunteers plan to reach out to the larger society through the existing networks. Global and national networks like the Art of Living of Sri Ravi Shankar, Catholic Health Association of India, Cafe Coffee Day and Catholic University Federation of India have come forward to promote this cause through their existing networks. (Source: UCAN)




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