On April 28, 2018, CBM Kenya will be holding the third edition of Concert In The Dark. The concert aims to raise funds towards prevention of childhood blindness caused by Cataracts. CBM Kenya has held this concert for 2 years in a row. In 2016, the funds raised helped restore sight and hope to 40 children. In 2017, the number grew and they were able to help 98 children through cataract removal surgery.
The event will take place at the Louis Leakey Auditorium, National Museums of Kenya from 5.00pm. The main performers will be Crystal Asige, Denno and Ukoo Flani. The concert will only have advance tickets going for at Ksh 3,500 per person. There will be no tickets at the gate. Advance ticketing will close on April 28, 2018, at 7 pm. The first 120 persons to purchase tickets, in advance get a barbeque grill platter or vegetarian option and a glow-in-the-dark bracelet.
Child eye health has always been one of the key focus areas for CBM Kenya. It is estimated that currently, about 16,800 children in Kenya are blind. However, 75 percent of childhood blindness is preventable, thereby preventing the inevitable hardship that blindness brings. Control of childhood blindness is important because it directly contributes to a high mortality rate of children under five years of age.
Velma Kiome is the Executive Director at CBM Kenya. She is in charge of leading the establishment and growth of the organization. This includes fundraising in Kenya. Velma helps us understand better why focusing on childhood blindness is important.
Why did CBM Kenya decide to focus on child eye health?
Our founder Pastor Ernst J. Christoffel, a German National, was committed to the education and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities and this laid the foundation for an organisation that is today one of the leading international development organisations for persons with disabilities worldwide. His early work began with service to blind and disabled persons, and that inspired the original name of the organization he founded, Christian Blind Mission. In Kenya, childhood blindness is a leading cause of disability, which contributes immensely to poverty.
Are there any causes of cataracts, can parents do anything for their children to prevent it and how does it progress?
Cataracts are caused by various factors often hereditary (runs in the family) or congenital (intra-uterine acquired). Congenital Cataracts can be detected at birth and when rectified within 10 weeks from birth, it can allow the child to develop the necessary brain sensory for vision. However, when corrected within the first three months of birth, the results can still be positive.
Congenital cataracts occur due to an infection the mother may have had during pregnancy – Syphilis and Rubella infections in pregnant mothers are common causes of cataracts in newborn babies. Hereditary cataracts occur in children more so if other close family members have had the condition. The condition progresses to complete blindness in the eye as the cloudy spot grows across the lens, blocking out the light.
How does child blindness increase child mortality rate?
Other than cataracts, other causes of childhood blindness include Vitamin A deficiency. A Child with Vitamin A deficiency likely has other vitamin deficiencies that impair normal growth. Vitamin A not only aids in ocular development, it also reduces likelihood fatalities for children aged 1 – 5 from diseases like measles and respiratory and diarrheal infections.
How much is one cataract surgery?
The costs vary from hospital to hospital, among our implementing partners. Some charge Ksh 10 000 for adults, and for children from Ksh 22,500 which is inclusive of in-patient services. Some also charge more than Ksh 25 000. This is money most impoverished families struggle to acquire.
What should people expect during the concert?
Concert in the dark is a revolutionary experience blending music, extremely limited light and communication together, with the mission of raising awareness about the challenges that persons with vision impairment face in their daily activities. Both the artists and the audience will remember what it was like to perform, listen and experience performances without the distraction of visual conditioning, social etiquette and cell phones.
The audience shall be guided and served by a troupe of blind ushers inside the dark chamber. Participants will be able to enjoy the extraordinary experience while contributing to a worthy cause. The few hours spent in darkness will help prevent a child from living in permanent darkness for life.
This year, Proem have supported us in creating amazing glow-in-the-dark performances using a black light and artist Tina Benarwa has donated a 2 meter by 2-meter acrylic painting with glow-in-the-dark and Braille features, the latter of which can only be read by Visually Impaired Persons (VIP). This painting will be displayed in the event foyer for concert-goers to touch and interact with. This painting is available for auction with all proceeds going towards Cataract removal surgery for children in 2019.
How else can people donate to the cause?
You can donate to the cause via CBM Mpesa Paybill number: 574743
Bank: Standard Chartered
Swift code: SCBLKENXXXX
Branch: Ukay Branch
Postal Address: P.O. Box 30003 – 00100, Nairobi
Account Name: CBM Kenya
Account number 0108011197000
What more do you think should be done to highlight the issues of child eye healthcare in the country?
More health care practitioners, including trained traditional birth attendants, need to be better educated on how to detect eye health early so that interventions can be made in a timely manner. The earlier the better.
Parents too, especially the primary caregivers can be trained to detect any changes in the child’s focusing within the first six months. There are milestones for development of vision one can be taught about, so that they can monitor.