A gift of sight

To mark International Volunteer Day on 5 December, Eco-Business presents this short film which takes you to the remote villages of Yunnan, China, where elderly folk find help and friendship through an initiative supported by Keppel Land.

Duan Xiu Ying is one of the hundreds of elderly people in rural villages in China’s Yunnan province who suffer from cataractsdue to high altitudes and strong ultraviolet rays.

As vision gradually dulls for people who develop cataracts, they find it increasingly difficult to care for themselves and their families.

This is why Spring City Resort of Singaporean property developer Keppel Land has become a long-term supporter of voluntary doctors and nurses who provide free cataract operations through Bless China International, a Chinese non-government organisation.

For the past 10 years, Keppel has raised and donated almost US$400,000 (RMB 2.5 million) for this programme, giving hope to senior citizens like Ying for a chance to see again.

This initiative is part of how the firm aligns its business practices to international benchmarks, including the ISO 26000 Guidelines on Social Responsibility and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

But Keppel Land volunteers, who help transport patients to and from surgeries and carry supplies to them, say the experience goes far beyond company guidelines that they are obliged to follow. 

It’s rare for a private organisation to reach out to villagers directly in their community outreach programme. We hope that more companies will be able to support this programme to help more villagers regain their eyesight

Yuan Yuan Sheng, eye surgeon

Yang Xin, a Keppel Land employee and volunteer, adds that the Chinese doctors and nurses who volunteer also do not just come to perform surgeries. Together with the rest of the volunteers, the medical practitioners also visit their patients after the operation to see how they are, go to their village to donate rice, cooking oil and supplies.

“We talk to the people, try to understand their needs,” Yang says.

More than 100 villagers in Yunnan, China have already benefitted from the free cataract surgeries, and the care and concern from volunteers. 

As Dr Yuan Yuan Sheng, an eye surgeon in Yunnan observes, “It’s rare for a private organisation to reach out to villagers directly in their community outreach programme.”

We hope that more companies will be able to support this programme to help more villagers regain their eyesight,”  he adds. 

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