Strabane man returns from eye-opening trip to Kolkata

STRABANE’S Keith McCallion has just returned from a recent visit to the Indian city of Kolkata, following a week-long charity mission with The Hope Foundation. 
A past pupil of St Colman’s High School, Keith visited the destitute city of Kolkata where he volunteered at the Hope Foundation Eye Clinic, for 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 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. 
Many of those treated by Keith and the Specsavers team had never before had access to eye care. 
Speaking about his first visit to the city of Kolkata Keith explained, “I am so grateful to have had the privilege of visiting Kolkata. The poverty we witnessed whilst working in the city is remarkable. 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 – 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 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. 
Keith continued, “The week I spent in Kolkata will stay with me forever. The poverty I witnessed was heart-breaking, 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. We will continue to raise vital funds for The Hope Foundation and continue aiding their mission to combat the dire living conditions in the poverty-stricken city of Kolkata.” 

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