'The week I spent in Kolkata will stay with me forever'

Thursday, 6th December, 2018 3:16pm

'The week I spent in Kolkata will stay with me forever'

Keith McCallion from Specsavers, Tullamore with founder of The Hope Foundation, Maureen Forrest.

Specsavers Tullamore is delighted to welcome back store director Keith McCallion from his recent visit to the Indian city of Kolkata, following a week-long charity mission with charity partner, The Hope Foundation.

Keith visited the city of Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, where he volunteered at the Hope Foundation Eye Clinic, which Specsavers has committed to funding for three years in a bid to provide basic eye health care to the impoverished community.

As well as tending to over 1,300 patients, Keith also visited local slum communities and toured the city at night with the mobile health bus treating those living on the poverty-stricken streets of Kolkata who were deemed too poorly to make the trip to the eye clinic.

Thanks to Keith, along with his Specsavers colleagues, over 1,300 patients received eye checks, over 1,000 glasses were dispensed and in some of the more severe cases, patients were referred to the eye hospital for surgery. Although what was provided can almost be seen as basic eye care in the first world, many of those who were treated by Keith and the Specsavers team had never had access to eye care.

Keith McCallion commented: "I am so grateful to have had the privilege of visiting Kolkata with The Hope Foundation and Specsavers. The poverty we witnessed whilst working in the city was heartbreaking. It was shocking to witness the destitute living conditions first-hand so to be able to give those with so little the ability to see is an honour.

"It was so heart-warming to meet the thousands of patients we treated. I’d like to take a moment to thank all of those who have helped make this unforgettable journey possible, my colleagues, friends and our incredibly generous customers in Tullamore – you have all contributed to giving some special and deserving people the gift of sight."

At the end of the week-long volunteering trip, Specsavers Tullamore presented a cheque of €75,000 to founder of The Hope Foundation, Maureen Forrest. This significant donation will play a vital role in sustaining the eye care clinic in Kolkata.

"The week I spent in Kolkata will stay with me forever. The poverty I witnessed first-hand was heart-breaking to see, however, I will be forever grateful for this life changing experience. It is amazing to see how the clinic have used funds we have raised over the course of the year," Keith continued.

The Hope Foundation Ireland is a registered Irish charity working with street and slum children in Kolkata.

For further information on the services available at Specsavers Tullamore simply drop in to chat with the team at McFadden House, 10 Patrick Street, Tullamore, call 057 9365980, or visitwww.specsavers.ie/stores/tullamore.

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