Specsavers in Donegal Town & Letterkenny have rallied together with Specsavers stores across Ireland in response to the ongoing Covid crisis in India, donating funds for vital oxygen supplies, food and other services.
Specsavers and its store partners have raised a total of €70,000 for its long-time charity partner The Hope Foundation, to support its emergency response to the latest deadly wave of infection.
Specsavers has actively supported The Hope Foundation over the last four years, raising over €200,000 for the charity and services to date.
Specsavers fund the hospital’s eye care clinic in Kolkata, in addition to undertaking annual missions to India where they provide eyecare to the street and slum communities.
Kerril Hickey, Specsavers Ireland Chairman, says the people of Kolkata hold a special place in heart of Specsavers staff and customers across the country. It was not a question of whether stores would help, but more a question of how.
‘We are privileged to be in a position to help the people of Kolkata and I am enormously proud of how quickly and passionately our store partners have responded. It is a testament to the care and compassion that Specsavers is globally recognised for.
‘This incredible sum of money will be put to work supporting The Hope Foundation’s efforts in the fight against Covid and helping India in its hour of need.’
With a population of 1.4 billion people, suppressing the pandemic was always going to be a struggle. There are now approximately 21 million confirmed cases with over 230,000 reported deaths. It is widely suspected that the true figure is much higher. There are countless stories of people being turned away from hospitals as a direct result of the fragile healthcare system and oxygen shortages, with other reports that crematoriums are burning 24 hours a day.
Specsavers’ Lisa Walsh has been the team lead when it comes to working with The Hope Foundation. Undertaking three missions to Kolkata in previous years, Lisa comments: ‘Having been to Kolkata and witnessing the level of poverty, the lack of healthcare facilities and resources available in a pre-Covid era, it is terrifying to try even imagine the true reality of what’s actually happening on the ground there today.’
The Hope Foundation have been fundraising for oxygen cylinders and medical equipment, even turning HOPE Hospital into a Covid Hospital. They are also having to feed thousands of hungry families of daily labourers. Hope’s longstanding presence on the ground in Kolkata means that they can act fast to redirect their efforts to wherever the needs are greatest and with Specsavers presence in Kolkata it was only right to step in and support where they could.
The Hope Foundation have been working with the street and slum children and their communities in Kolkata since 1999. Founded by Cork native Maureen Forrest, Hope has reached out and supported up to 2.9 million people living in dire poverty.
Speaking of her deep sadness at watching friends, colleagues and children enduring such suffering, founder and Hon. Director Maureen, says: ‘It is so very difficult to see our friends and colleagues struggle, risking their own lives to help those in great poverty and dire need right now. Their tireless dedication is both inspirational and heart breaking at the same time. We can only try our best here to fundraise to help them continue.
‘Our partners at Specsavers have been incredible. Stepping up and showing their support, not turning a blind eye or getting distracted as things improve in Ireland. They continued to fund the eye care clinic through the pandemic and now with this €70,000 donation to our Covid crisis fund. We are indebted to them for their generosity and support and are overwhelmed by all they have done for us and continue to do for us.
When this is over there will be very few families in Kolkata who will not have suffered a loss. The Hope Foundation will continue to fundraise and fight for those affected by this pandemic and ongoing crisis. Every donation will be used to help ease suffering.
‘Thankfully because of the incredible staff on the ground we can turn donations into action really quickly. One can sometimes feel helpless in the face of such adversity, but we have been humbled by the extraordinary generosity of people and we are acting quickly on the ground.’
Hope has launched an appeal to help the hospital treat patients and ease suffering in the slums throughout the crisis. Call 021 4292990 to donate or visit hopefoundation.ie.