Sight for Souls is a Christian US-based nonprofit organization transforming lives and communities in Sub-Saharan Africa through the gift of sight for the body and soul. Motivated by the love and example of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we seek to alleviate blindness through programs in areas with the greatest need.
The journey of Sight for Souls, a United States 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, began in 2014 with a vision to alleviate unnecessary visual impairment using sustainable systems as much as possible. Most causes of blindness can be reversed or prevented, but require individual-level clinical care in most cases. In 2015, two of the founding members moved to Ethiopia (Dr. John Kempen and Dr. Scott Lawrence) to join Ethiopian partner Dr. Demissie Tadesse, to invest in partnerships to support the education and opportunities of local medical practitioners, clinics and institutions. We began by applying the successful approach from India and Nepal to Sub-Saharan Africa. With a self-sustaining approach like this, the interventions become permanent in the community, which is important because most causes of blindness are ancient problems endemic in communities.
Our inaugural project was the establishment of the Eye Unit within the MCM Comprehensive Specialized Hospital in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. The MCM Eye Unit is a joint initiative of Ethiopian and American ophthalmologists to provide world class clinical care and serve as a leader in advanced training for doctors and eye care personnel in Ethiopia. Since its establishment in 2016, the partnership between Sight for Souls and MCM has provided much needed ophthalmology equipment, advanced training for Ethiopian doctors and treatment for patients in need of specialized care from throughout Ethiopia. The MCM Eye Unit has been self-sustaining since its 63rd month. We also have implemented educational programs for medical students, residents, and fellows, most of which were not previously available in the region. In addition, we have developed an extensive of research program in Ethiopia focusing on the global burden of eye diseases, trachoma, uveitis, and refractive errors with our partners. We perform regular outreaches to identify those unnecessarily blind from cataract and provide sight-restoring surgery. These usually are done jointly with churches, gospel ministries, or health facilities which additionally provide impact through their programs.
We also have an additional focus on trachoma, an eye disease that develops related to sanitation issues. Trachoma is generally a disease that affects women and children. Because of poor sanitation due to a lack of water, flies come into contact with human waste, and transfer these particles to people’s faces—especially children and women—as they live and work in these unsanitary conditions. When these particles enter the eyes, it results in scaring on the inside of the eyelid causing the lashes to curl inward, causing extreme suffering and long-term visual impairment. High rates of surgical complications to curl the lashes back out further affect the problem. We have a major research program related to improving these surgical outcomes as well as evaluating simple ways to identify the need for glasses in remote populations (with partner Mass Eye and Ear).
Moving forward, Sight for Souls is working to expand these efforts to permanently develop and improve eye care in Ethiopia and Sub-Saharan Africa, developing new and stronger partnerships to transform lives and communities through the gift of sight for the body and soul, while working within the boundaries of local regulations and our financial capacity. As we work with hospitals, doctors and medical students, to support all those with vision impairment in this region, we cannot do it without our partners around the world!
Sight for Souls is committed to caring for the needs of patients and their families affected by blindness in Sub-Saharan Africa. In all our endeavors, we aim to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ through our words and actions and conduct all aspects of our organization with honesty and integrity. We partner with local churches and ministries as well as other communities who invite us to serve, which contributes to building the church where we work, maintaining a special focus on the urban and rural poor.
Sight for Souls is establishing sustainable, world-class eye care services to alleviate the burden of avoidable blindness in sub-Saharan Africa. Our commitment to excellence provides cutting edge technology and expertise for cataract, refractive surgery, and subspecialty services. Those who pay for cutting edge technology subsidize care and enable access to outstanding care for the poor.
Sight for Souls believes that integrity is necessary in the medical profession to protect the wellbeing of our patients, as well as in the process of research. We seek to display personal integrity in all our actions, as a reflection of our Christian values.
Dr. Kempen is the co-founder, President and lead researcher for Sight for Souls. He has been based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia since August 2015.
Ron Ferner is a board member and advisor for
Sight for Souls.
He lives in Delaware, USA.
Thomas Hwang is a board member of
Sight for souls.
He lives in the USA.
Tobias Klauder is the Treasurer for Sight for Souls.
He lives in Washinton State, USA.
Dr. Krueger is a board member and advisor of
Sight for Souls. He lives in the United States.
Dr. Lawrence is a co-founder and board member of Sight for Souls. He spent several years serving in Ethiopia.
Dr. Demissie is a co-founder of Sight for Souls.
He lives and works in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.