Last Thursday 9th October was World Sight Day. I had never observed it in the past (no pun intended) but this breakfast event with TOMS Australia was quite the proverbial eye-opener. We were treated to a delicious breakfast at Hammer & Tong. I had never been there before but hubby have been raving about their lobster rolls. The food was magnificent. French toast nestled in a bed of fresh baby herbs and sprinkling of Oreo biscuit crumbs is served with a dollop of duck fat ice cream? Um, Oui oui! As we savoured every bite, we discussed something many of us take for granted: sight.
Not being able to see is a daunting thought. Imagine not being able to see the things and the ones you love. Imagine not being able to do the things you love to do. This is the reality for so many people in the world. Over breakfast, we learnt that 285 million people are blind or visually impaired but 80 per cent of them don’t have to be! And as you may have gathered, 90 per cent of the world’s visually impaired people live in developing countries. But thankfully, TOMS is doing something about it and it gives a new definition to ‘an eye for an eye’. For every pair of TOMS sunglasses purchased, TOMS help give sight to a person in need. One for one.
TOMS was founded by Blake Mycoskie who couldn’t take his gaze off the impoverished children in Argentina during his travels. They had no shoes to wear! So Blake came up with the idea of ‘One for One’. A person in need is helped whenever a TOMS product is purchased. Whether that be children supplied with shoes for every pair TOMS shoes purchased, or the blind and visually impaired with their sight restored with the purchase of TOMS Eyewear, or developing communities supplied with clean water via TOMS Roasting Company, TOMS gives to people in need through our support.
Since it was World Sight Day, we learnt more about how TOMS helps restore sight. TOMS provide prescription glasses, sight-saving surgery and medical treatment to people so they can fully experience the world. In some communities, when an elderly person gets cataracts, their granddaughter is taken out of school to become their ‘guide’. So when TOMS provide cataract surgery, it is giving back the livelihood of two people!
We were so privileged to be joined by renowned artist and photographer Peter Brew-Bevan at the breakfast. Peter was diagnosed with early onset glaucoma last year, a devastating affliction for a visual artist. To Peter, sight means livelihood, beauty, creativity and exploration. Since his diagnosis, he has become even more grateful for his sight and started creating art works that can be experienced by the visually impaired. His ‘Vision Boxes’ are covered with Braille poetry written to evoke a sense of the art work’s visual features.
It was as if scales fell off my eyes. I realized that sight is such a privilege and a blessing. It’s not something we should ever take for granted. Since I was utterly inspired by TOMS, to me, sight means seeing the needs of others. I hope I never lose sight of that.
What does sight mean to you?