What’s the name of your project?
I-CARE (Initializing Cataract Awareness in Rural Environment) Campaign
What problem are you solving with your project?
My project is addressing the high rate of blindness in my community as a result of cataracts. The high prevalence of cataracts in my local community is alarming due to their poor environmental condition, their way of life, and little or no knowledge regarding eye health management.

This issue of cataracts and the poor management of cataracts has led members of the community either totally accept their fate of never being able to see or carry out the traditional method of forcefully knocking the cataractous lens out of the eyes by hitting the eyes with so much force that the lens dislodge which eventually and surely leads to blindness accompanied with serious complications.
In summary, my project is solving the prevalence of blindness in my community as a result of cataracts due to their poor knowledge regarding the disease and lack of funds to medically remove cataracts which have affected their means of livelihood and reduced their economic value in society.
How does your project adequately solve this problem?
This issue of cataracts in rural environments isn’t something restricted to only my environment, but this is a wide range issue in my country, due to the fact Africans are predisposed to cataracts, and as a developing country with little or no basic eye health amenities, this issue will lead to more than 30% of Africans in a rural environment with blindness before they are 50.

My project is divided into various stages to measure each milestone, the first issue my project aims to address is ignorance regarding cataracts, this will be done through awareness campaigns, workshops, and eye health education.

I have decided to take this to a higher audience by using media houses, the awareness campaign will kick off with going to radio stations because of the unavailability of the internet in local communities, these local radio stations will enable me to broadcast my project and reach out to affected members, I will do this by sharing my story, will tell the story of what inspired me to carry out the project, the story of a man who came into a clinic I volunteer in, he came to seek help after a local cataract gone wrong, he had a cataract in his eyes and instead of going to the clinic, he did the local method of knocking the lens off, and that resulted not just in the loss of vision in that eyes but it resulted in a serious complication and the eyes got infected, and eventually led to enucleation of the eyes, I.e the total removal of the eyes.

Sharing my story using radio channels will allow me to perform three main tasks which are, to inspire, touch and move people, not just members of these rural environments but also organizations wishing to partner with me in this project.

Creating awareness regarding the project will enable me to gather my target audience where a date will be set to carry out eye health education and community members will be taught about the causes, how to prevent, and how to manage cataracts.

A second milestone of the project is organizing free visual screening, the screening aims to detect patients who are fit for free cataract surgeries, conducting visual screening will help detect other health complications and be referred for a necessary check-up, but the main aim of the screening is to select patients for the cataract surgeries.

A very important milestone is the conducting of free cataract surgeries, carrying out free surgeries won’t only give sight back to people who have lost hope, but it’s the bedrock for the sustainability of the project, an awareness of the project won’t be carried through word of mouth without giving vision back to people who had lost hope.

The issues which I listed out will be addressed by first carrying out awareness campaigns that will address the issues of ignorance, mismanagement, and misconceptions of cataracts in the rural environment.

The second issue my project will address is the issue of little or no health amenities, this will be addressed by providing free visual screening, the visual screening will access the ocular health of members of the society, and help detect community members of the society.

The last issue my project will address is the rise in blindness as a result of poor management of cataracts, this will be handled by providing free cataract surgeries to 10-20 members of the community drastically reducing blindness in rural environments.
What groups of people will benefit from your project?
My project affects people affected by cataracts either directly or indirectly, cataracts have traits of being hereditary so my project aims not to just reach out to those who have lost their vision as a result of cataracts but those who are at risk of getting this disease condition at the later stage of their life.
Though the project is targeted mainly towards the illiterate members of the community, educating them about the causes of cataracts and how well they can be prevented and managed, the groups who will benefit from this project have no age-bound or academic status as cataracts can directly affect children, adults, aged parents, educated or not with the only difference being that the educated might know that the best solution is to handle in the clinic while the uneducated might resort to traditional means.

My project is beneficial to all ages, genders, and social statuses as it provides the best solution and advocacy for tackling the prevalence of blindness as a result of blindness.
How do you intend to generate revenue in order to become sustainable?
I intend on generating revenue by inspiring and creating a movement. This will be done through radio channels where people who have undergone surgeries and gotten a second chance at life will be brought to share their stories, sharing their stories is aimed at inspiring not just other members who have developed a fear or have lost hope that nothing could be done for them but also organizations, NGOs, partners with similar interest as I have to be a part of this project. The best way to inspire people is to tell the story and I believe the best person to tell the story are those directly impacted.
To create a movement, I have let people understand that The I-CARE campaign is more than just a project, it is a way of life, showing people in the deepest part of the world, that there is someone that cares and is willing to create a change and this is what I aim to achieve with this project.

I aim to create a project which will be conducted yearly where members of a community will have access to eye care facilities and free surgeries will b carried out, this is the main reason I aim to first inspire other organizations to my project because the main outcome of my project is to create a lasting movement of eradicating blindness as a result of cataract and this project is a stepping stone to achieve this sustainable dream.
What makes your project unique or better than other projects solving this problem?
The I-CARE Campaign is unique in solving this problem other than other projects as it’s not just an awareness campaign that aims at educating about the dangers of cataracts as a cause of blindness but goes further than just preventing and awareness and provides free cataracts surgeries for those already affected.

The I-CARE campaign seeks to give a second chance to those already affected, the main goals of most projects are prevention and awareness which is the main core for campaigns but then, it did get me thinking, what about those already affected, what about those who had to give up their means of livelihood as they couldn’t continue working due to their loss of vision and this answered questions makes the I-CARE campaign unique.

The core goals of this project are to TOUCH, INSPIRE and create a MOVEMENT in the lives of its beneficiaries, the project aims to create a sustainable project which creates a ripple effect in the world where other organizations and members of the community are inspired to be a part of this affecting seeing the impact of the project in the lives of the beneficiaries and then being a part of the movement to take the I-CARE campaign globally.
What strategies will you adopt to scale the impact of your project in the future?
The impact of the project will be measured by the set of defined goals and objectives, one major goal to determine the success of the project is providing free cataracts surgeries for the first set of 20 affected individuals, the project’s first defined successful milestone is reaching 20 individuals in its inception and choosing 20 individuals is due to the available grant capital and to measure the outcome of the surgeries successfully.

There are various strategies to determine the scale of the project and to access the impact of the awareness section of the project and this is carried out through a survey, the survey will be carried out before the onset of the project to determine the extent of knowledge of its beneficiaries and to determine the best way to reach them efficiently.

The outcome of the awareness project will be measured after a post-survey is conducted at the end of the project, this will be done to have a comparison between what was known before the project was carried out and what is known after the project is done.

The impact of the project won’t be solely based on the surveys carried out but also on the media awareness the project creates as the project is aimed to inspire other organizations to be involved, the amount of engagement the project receives is another factor used to measure the success of the project.

One major strategy to measure its impact is project sustainability, the project is designed to be self-sustainable and this is achieved through partnership and the movement the project starts, the inability of the project to scale beyond its first inception and reach beyond my local community will be an indication to go back to the drawing board.
What impact does your project have on your community, region, country, or the world?
My project aims to start a movement in my community, creating awareness about the prevalence of blindness as a result of cataracts, the prevalence of cataracts in the community has led to the loss of vision of a lot of hard-working pillars of the community, and this, in turn, has led to the decline of the economic output of the community.

My project doesn’t just create awareness for those not yet affected by this issue but provides a second chance, my project shows that someone, somewhere cares and that there is still light at the end of the tunnel and this is more important than anything, giving back hope to the people of this community and this is done by providing free cataract surgeries for those who can’t afford it.

Providing free surgeries for affected members doesn’t just give their vision a second chance but also their business, it helps them and the community, they no longer feel like burdens to society and this helps to increase the outcome of their productivity, this aspect of the project inspires people who hear about their stories that something can still be done in their situations and they will fight harder and stronger to create this change and then the awareness will teach them how to best to maintain and value their vision.

The impact of the project doesn’t just stop at the community but is designed to create a ripple effect that influences other communities to be a part of this project, the effect of this effect is getting individuals and organizations to be a part of this, getting the necessary funds to take the project beyond the community to regional and the media awareness every part of the world. The I-CARE project is a movement that won’t be restricted geographically but its impact will be felt globally.
What makes you the right person or team to solve this problem?
As a 600-level student of Optometry at the University of Benin, I have been trained with the right skill set to handle cataracts as a cause of blindness, I have been trained for more than 5 years by qualified practitioners about eye health and primary eye care, this knowledge has given me the edge to stand out to handle this problem in my community.

I have not only been academically trained about the condition of cataracts but I have witnessed cases of the complications of cataracts while I volunteered in a local clinic in my community during the lockdown period.

During my time volunteering at the clinic, I came across several patients with cataracts which could have been prevented if they only knew how, among the set of people, there was a particular case that motivated me to take on this challenge more than the rest cases I had seen.

There was a case of a man with cataracts but what made his case stand out was that after finding out he had cataracts, instead of coming to the clinic for further tests and the right treatment, he decided to use traditional means which involves forcefully knocking off the affected lens, this didn’t just make him lose his sight but resulted in very serious complications.

I have seen the harmful effect of not being properly educated about the dangers of poor cataract management and have also been academically trained on how to manage these cataract problems. I am both mentally and emotionally invested in this cause, I believe this makes me the right person to solve this problem.
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