2020: Orbis's Year in Review | Orbis

2020: Orbis's Year in Review

January 2021

2020 was not the year anyone expected – however our generous supporters, dedicated staff and incredible partners helped to make the most of an exceptionally difficult year. Take a look at our interactive Orbis Year in Review below and see how Orbis and our partners rose to the challenge of the pandemic.

JANUARY / FEBRUARY: THANKS TO YOU, MORE CHILDREN CAN SEE THEIR FUTURE IN NEPAL

Before the pandemic forced us to stop all travel, our Communications Manager Olivia Patt was able to visit eastern Nepal to see the inception of our latest Orbis project which was funded through 2019’s See My Future appeal. Click the play button to hear Olivia talking firsthand about the work our generous supporters made possible.

A mobile phone using the Cybersight telemedicine platform

MARCH: ORBIS UK STAFF BEGIN WORKING TO SAVE SIGHT FROM HOME

In line with government guidance, all Orbis UK staff began to work from their homes in March to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Thanks to their enthusiasm and flexibility, and the success of our recent organisational digital transformation, we have been able to continue raising much-needed funds and plan projects for when restrictions allow them to restart and ramp-up. During this time, our volunteers, many of whom were working for the NHS on the frontlines, received a huge number of messages of encouragement from our supporters – who we cannot thank enough.

MARCH / APRIL: WITH THE FLYING EYE HOSPITAL GROUNDED, CYBERSIGHT USAGE TOOK-OFF!

As much of the world ramped up its isolation efforts - the number of registered Cybersight users hit a new high of 20,000. Usage continued to grow throughout 2020, which highlights just how vital Cybersight is in these challenging and uncertain times – helping eye care professionals stay virtually connected and continue learning, while training cannot take place in person.

APRIL: THE ORBIS STAFF Anaesthetist SAVING LIVES ON THE FRONTLINE

In April, we caught up with Dr. Choyce - a British anaesthetist who has been part of our team for more than 15 years. Dr. Choyce was using his specialist skills to fight COVID-19 on the frontline, working in ICUs and saving lives. What's more, the training he's provided to countless partners around the world as part of his work on board the Flying Eye Hospital will mean many anaesthetists are now in a better position to save lives in their own community.

MAY: THE ORBIS PARTNER SAVING THE SIGHT OF PREMATURE BABIES

Long-time Orbis partner, Dr. Luz Gordillo, didn’t stop her sight saving work when the pandemic hit. She continued to care for premature babies at risk of Retinopathy of Prematurity, a disease that cannot wait for the pandemic to end to be treated. She put her own health on the line to ensure that these babies do not live a life of unnecessary blindness.

JUNE: ETHIOPIA DRIVERS RAISE AWARENESS OF CORONAVIRUS

Local eye health assistants and drivers worked to keep their communities safe during the pandemic while routine eye services were suspended. Before the pandemic, these key workers would provide transportation for patients, spread eye care information, and distribute medicine. During the pandemic, they shifted gears to spread awareness of COVID-19 and transport essential healthcare workers.

Flying Eye Hospital.

JUNE CONTINUED: ZAMBIA FLYING EYE HOSPITAL VISIT GOES VIRTUAL

When the Flying Eye Hospital visit to Zambia was postponed, the training didn't stop. Online lectures and courses were delivered to participants from Orbis-partner hospitals in Lusaka, Ndola, and Chipata through our online medical training platform Cybersight.

JULY: THE OPHTHALMIC CLINICAL OFFICER WHOSE ROLE CHANGED OVERNIGHT

When coronavirus came to Zambia, Charles Chikwanda, an ophthalmic clinical officer trained by Orbis, turned his hand to protecting his community from coronavirus. In July, he told us about how the pandemic had affected his work: “I’m one of the people who, when there are contacts or suspects – I go and collect the samples, write the lab forms and send them to Ndola. So, it has changed a lot of things, because you find yourself in environments when you know, “this is not the area of my work.” But we’re doing it. Why? Because we want to fight the one common enemy – coronavirus.”

AUGUST: ORBIS VOLUNTEER ROB WALTERS INTERVIEWED ON VIKING.TV

In August, long-time volunteer and Orbis UK trustee Rob Walters was featured on Viking.TV’s “In Conversation with Alastair Miller”. Click on the play button to hear his conversation with Alastair about why he does what he does, his favourite memories – and why he thinks saving sight can change the world.

SEPTEMBER: CATCHING UP WITH THE MAN BEHIND THE FLYING EYE HOSPITAL

With the Flying Eye Hospital grounded, we took the chance to catch up with Bruce Johnson, a retired Air Force flight engineer turned FedEx flight instructor, who oversees our plane — even during COVID-19. He spoke of the work he and his team do to keep the Flying Eye Hospital in good nick – this includes pre-flights, oxygen and tyre pressure maintenance, the changing of filters, the charging of batteries, and the monitoring and replacing of instruments. Thanks Bruce!

OCTOBER: WORLD SIGHT DAY AND THE LAUNCH OF CATARACTION BY ORBIS!

On October 14, we celebrated World Sight Day by inviting our generous donors to sign up to CatarAction by Orbis. Cataract is the leading cause of blindness, and by signing up to CatarAction, supporters can help supporters can help fund cataract operations and provide independence and freedom for people who are facing a lifetime of avoidable blindness. We’ve been blown away by the response we’ve had to CatarAction so far. The more people who sign up to CatarAction, the more people will receive the life-transforming gift of sight. By coming together, we can change the way the world sees!

NOVEMBER: THE LAUNCH OF SIGHTLINES

In November, we launched SIGHTLINES, a Video Podcast series hosted by Dr. Hunter Cherwek, Vice President of Clinical Services at Orbis International. The series discussed the global fight against blindness, how COVID-19 is impacting that fight, and how Orbis is innovating to overcome and move forward. Click the play button to watch the trailer and listen to the full series on the Orbis International YouTube page, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or the podcast provider of your choice.

Trachoma progress timeline crop

DECEMBER: ORBIS TEAM FIGHTING TRACHOMA ON THE GROUND IN ETHIOPIA

Trachoma is an incredibly painful eye disease and is the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness. The coronavirus pandemic caused delays in the widespread distribution of the antibiotic which treats trachoma. Any interruption to treatment can have a serious long-term impact on our chances of eliminating trachoma, so we were in a race against time to continue treatment. To move ahead with the mass distribution of this drug, we needed to reimagine how we deliver it to account for COVID-19 safety precautions. And after a huge amount of planning and preparation, our teams on the ground were able to continue the fight against trachoma in early December, by beginning to screen and treat an incredible 10 million people in Southern Ethiopia. Rather than staging large screening camps, they went door-to-door to make sure they were able to reach every person they could as safely as possible.

Thank you so much to all our donors for their incredible support in 2020

Will you help us get the new year off to a flying start, and build brighter futures in 2021?