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Standard Chartered Celebrates Seeing Is Believing Week

Oct 8, 2009, 6:10 AM

Staffs of Standard Chartered have commenced a week-long activity, dubbed 'Seeing is Believing' (SiB) to fundraise, volunteer and raise awareness on avoidable blindness.

This initiative is staff-driven and will coincide with the World Sight Day celebrations, scheduled for Thursday October 8, 2009. Staffs' involvement has always been a key factor to the success of this initiative and continues to be strengthened through the bank's employee volunteering commitment, which provides employees with an additional two days leave each year for voluntary work to support programmes, such as Seeing is Believing.

The SiB Week was formerly launched by Humphrey Mukwereza, Standard Chartered Gambia's Chief Executive Officer, at a short ceremony in the Banjul Branch where he recounted success stories of the initiative in the country and called on staffs to engage in the planned activities for the week.

Some courageous staffs were engaged in a 'Blind Walk' to further highlight the effect of blindness in society.

Commenting, Humphrey Mukwereza said: "You get to appreciate the enormity of the problems posed by blindness, when you come to the realisation that developing countries could potentially achieve a US$384billion boost in economic productivity over the next 20 years if they adopt appropriate measures to reduce blindness. Loss of sight has not only affected local communities, but has had a very negative impact on corporate entities and productivity. Seeing is Believing is our global response to avoidable blindness. To date, it has contributed to two million sight restorations and rose to over US$17million to prevent and cure blindness. Here in The Gambia we have in collaboration with Sight Savers, Sheikh Zayed Regional Eye Care Center, and the Department of State for Health and Social Welfare raised US$14,000 to treat 300 people with cataract operations in The Gambia from 2009 to 2010 through a friendly football match with the National Scorpion's Fan Club. As the right partner to all our stakeholders, we will work directly to address the gender differential through community education and training of medical staff and remain committed to fighting curable blindness in The Gambia."

Other activities planned for the week include the launch of a 200 Cataract Operation and Nationwide Eye Screening Project, in partnership with the Department of State for Health. The screening exercise has been successfully completed and surgeries will commence this week at the Sheikh Zayed Clinic, where staff volunteers from the bank will assist the medical team. The rest of the week has been dedicated to fundraising and advocacy activities.

Proceeds from the Seeing is Believing Week will be channelled into supporting projects which provide sustainable solutions to the prevention of blindness, as well as projects addressing urgent eye care needs.

Staff in The Gambia have over the years engaged in employee volunteering efforts, such as assisting nurses, surgeons, oculists, matrons, and nursing assistants to treat about 200 patients at the Sheikh Zayed Regional Eye Care Centre and also providing free eye test and counseling to almost fifty valued customers and staff at the Kairaba Avenue Branch.

"Seeing is Believing" is a Standard Chartered global community initiative established in 2003 to celebrate the bank's 150th anniversary. As replicated in The Gambia, the initiative partners with leading eye care agencies to support projects that have an immediate impact on people's lives and establish sustainable healthcare for the future.  Presently in its fourth phase, the target is to invest USD20 million to fund the development of sustainable eye care services in less advantaged areas of 20 cities. As a demonstration of its commitment to the programme, the bank commits to match every donation raised until the USD20million target is met and aims to raise the funds by 2013.  The investment will extend from 2008 to 2015 when the programme is due to complete.

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