And now for some serious kvelling from a proud Dad…
For his Bar Mitzvah tzedakah project last September, my son Gabe decided to raise funds for Unite for Sight, an organization that promotes optical surgeries and eye care around the world. To date he has raised over $7,000.00, which enabled an eye clinic in Tamale, Ghana to purchase a much-needed visual field machine (medical equipment that diagnoses and manages glaucoma.)
Gabe was honored this past Saturday at Unite for Sight’s annual convention at Stanford University School of Medicine. (His entourage for the occasion: his mother Hallie, and grandparents Al and Esther, Larry and Ruth – plenty of naches to go around!) That’s Gabe above with Dr. Seth Wanye, Director of the Tamale eye clinic.
Here’s what Gabe had to say upon receiving his youth volunteer award:
When I was ten years old I received an eye injury in a soccer accident. Two days later I was taken into surgery to fix a detached retina in my left eye. If I did not have this surgery, I would have gone blind in that eye. At first I was apprehensive about the surgery, but then I realized that I was in good hands and that I was lucky to have this state of the art treatment.
Two years later, when it came time for my Bar Mitzvah, and for my Social Action Project, I decided to donate money to Unite for Sight. The advanced procedure I received made me appreciate how fortunate I was to be in a wealthy area of the world. My Dad and I looked up organizations that supported eye care in developing countries, and we found Unite for Sight. I liked that Unite for Sight was able to make a difference in peoples’ daily lives.
The Torah says, “Cursed be he who misdirects a blind person on his way.” This is what I said about this line in the my Bar Mitzvah speech:
“On one hand, this could mean taking advantage of someone like a tourist that doesn’t ‘know the ropes’ in a situation. The Torah teaches that we have a responsibility to be trustworthy and help others find their desired destination.
In a more literal way, we can interpret this commandment to mean we have a responsibility to help people who suffer from the curse of blindness, especially preventable blindness.
What would it take to stop the curse of preventable blindness in developing countries? More affluent countries should realize that they have a responsibility to stop the diseases and would need to donate money for more optic surgeons and more hospitals in these parts of the world.
I don’t believe that God can curse you or bless you. I believe that some people have good fortune and some people have rotten fortune and God has nothing to do with it. You have good luck if you’re born in a wealthy part of the world and you have bad luck if you live in a poorer part of the world. Poorer people don’t deserve to be poor, they just happen to be born in countries with less resources. They are not cursed by God but they might feel that they are cursed.
Even though I don’t believe God can curse or bless people, I did learn a lesson from my portion: It is our responsibility to help the world feel less cursed. We could help the world by donating money, food, and other resources to those who need them. We could send doctors to treat preventable illnesses in other countries that need our help.”
I would like to thank Unite for Sight for this honor. I’m especially honored that I could help the people of Tamale and Dr. Wanye to purchase a visual field machine for their Eye Clinic.
Thank you very much.
You can donate to Unite for Sight by clicking here. (A donation of $50.00 can restore sight to one individual – yes, sometimes it’s that easy to make a difference in the world…)