My Address for World Sight Day – 9th October 2014
At Mohammad Bin Rashid Academic Medical Center
Dubai Healthcare City, UAE.

Honorable dignitaries, esteemed delegates, members connected with the medical fraternity, friends and organizers – good morning, salam, namaskar.

It is a matter of double honour for me to be invited here as a poet – to celebrate: World Sight Day with you.

I understand that overall, visual impairment worldwide has decreased in the last 20 years. This is due to rapid medical advancement, socio-economic progress, and focused public health initiatives.

However, as we all know, there is much to be done – because millions of people of all ages are visually impaired. In the general idea, I learn, 285 million people suffer from visual impairment. 39 million are blind and it is the middle-and-low-income groups who are the main victims due to their state of ignorance and poverty. I am also told that 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured. This figure gives me a sense of hope and despair. Hope, because there is light for those who have defective vision. Despair, because we all know that there is so much to be done… and is not being done.

My friends, the 2 poems I am about to recite express my petition, my emotions for those who are not fortunate like us.

I feel, as good citizens, we have a vital role to play to help in social causes because we are a crucial part of society. I cannot blame governments for everything. I believe, individually, I must take some responsibilities… even a 'speck' of responsibility taken by me can make a 'difference' to heal and cure the environment and people around me.

Thank you for listening to me.

Geeta Chhabra

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