NEW YORK, NY – Helen Keller was born 140 years ago this month. She passed away in 1968 a few days prior to her 88th birthday. Her story was brought to stage and screen in the play and the movie, The Miracle Worker. Blind and deaf from the age of 19 months, Helen learned how to live victoriously with those disabilities. Her legacy lives on through Helen Keller International, a global NGO. Helen Keller International not only focuses on eliminating preventable vision loss, but also on fighting the diseases of poverty and malnutrition, and teaching families how to grow more nourishing food.
Helen Keller was a co-founder of the charitable organization that now bears her name. HKI currently oversees 107 different projects in 20 different countries. Here’s why.
Fact #1 – 36 million people around the world are blind.
Fact #2 – 80 percent (28.8 million) did not have to lose their sight.
HKI utilizes several tools to accomplish their task in a variety of ways, depending on the predominant needs in the areas being served.
At the foundational level, the NGO provides vision screening for millions of children and provides prescription eyeglass for those that need them.
They train hundreds of doctors in the prevention and treatment of diabetic retinopathy in countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia, where diabetes has become pervasive.
They train and equip physicians to provide cataract surgery, then organize clinics and surgical services in under-served regions of Asia and Africa. In addition, they enable access to quality education for blind and otherwise disabled children across the developing nations in the 10/40 Window.
According to the Helen Keller International website, “Malnutrition is the single greatest threat to child survival today, contributing to more than 45 percent of all child deaths worldwide.” One in every nine people today – about 820 million – are undernourished.
HKI prioritizes prevention as their contribution by developing and testing nutrition solutions that can transform lives. Then they partner with other NGOs to scale those solutions to the demand in the countries where they serve.
Through 2017 HKI had introduced 1.5 million families to nutritious foods previously unknown to them. They taught them how to raise and prepare those foods, provided tools, and mentored them in entrepreneurial skills to help them sell their surplus crops as a source of revenue.
The best way to fight disease is by preventing it. HKI specializes in protecting families from some of the lesser-known, but deadly and debilitating diseases associated with poverty in developing countries. Those sicknesses include trachoma, river blindness, intestinal worms, snail fever, and lymphatic filariasis.
In its most recently published annual report, Helen Keller International was able to
- Distribute vitamin A supplements to 3.8 million children.
- Perform more than 40,000 cataract surgeries in Myanmar alone.
- Administer more than 110 million pharmaceutical treatments in Africa to prevent “neglected” tropical diseases.
- Operate on and save more than 36,000 people from becoming blind due to advanced trachoma.
Frankly, this summary is just the tip of the iceberg. You can discover even more about this marvelous organization by visiting the Helen Keller International website at https://www.hki.org. As Helen Keller once said,
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”
- GiveWell, Helen Keller International’s Vitamin A Supplementation Program
- Helen Keller International website
- Helen Keller International 2018 Annual Report
- Brainy Quotes, Helen Keller