About Seeing is Believing

Standard Chartered Bank main objective for sponsoring the Nairobi Marathon is to raise funds for the eradication of avoidable blindness among children under the age of nine years, through the Bank global initiative Seeing is Believing.

Seeing is Believing is the Bank flagship sustainability initiative aimed at eradicating avoidable and curable blindness. The program was launched in 2003, as part of Standard Chartered Bank 150th anniversary celebrations. Since its launch, the Seeing is Believing program has helped 23 million people, giving more than 2.78 million people their sight back.

Standard Chartered Bank decided to get involved in the eradication of avoidable blindness because of the reasons below:

  • 39 million people across the world are blind;
  • 80 percent of blindness is avoidable;
  • 90 percent of avoidable blindness occurs in the developing world;
  • Every five seconds, someone goes blind;
  • One child goes blind every minute and 60 percent of children die within one year of going blind;
  • Without effective, major intervention, the number of blind people in the world could increase to 76 million by 2020.

At the launch, in 2003 our target was to raise funds to restore the eyesight of 28,000 people. Such was the enthusiasm with which the staff adopted the challenge, that year the Bank achieved twice its initial target. Since then, the ambition of Seeing is Believing has grown exponentially. In Phase II, US$6 million was raised to contribute to 1 million sight restorations. This goal was achieved by World Sight Day 2007.

Phase III of Seeing is Believing aimed to raise US$10 million to make a difference to the lives of 10 million people across 20 countries by 2010. Thanks to the hard work of our employees, the Bank exceeded its target of US$10 million, 3 years ahead of schedule. The Bank was able to implement 32 projects in 17 countries through the funds raised in the third phase. In Kenya under Phase III the Bank funded the expansion of the eye clinics at Kapsabet District Hospital, Kapenguria District Hospital and Iten District Hospital. The new clinics have consultation rooms, mini theaters and state-of-the-art eye equipment.

In 2008, ‘A New Vision’ was launched. A New Vision marked an evolution in the Bank strategy as we progressed from funding surgeries and medicine to developing systems and processes to ensure the long-term sustainability of the programme. This builds on the Bank’s strengths and more closely integrates Seeing is Believing with our business and brand. The move was in response to feedback from our partners, the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Through this the Bank committed to invest USD20 million to provide sustainable eye-care services for 20 million people in 20 cities across the Standard Chartered Bank footprint by 2014. Nairobi was one of the cities that was considered. The Bank plans to raise USD10 million which will be matched by the Bank. So far, the Bank has been able to raise USD8 million towards the target of USD10 million.
In September 2011, we pledged to raise USD100 million by 2020 for sustainable eye-care programmes, aiming to reach 50 million people.

Kenya’s Seeing is Believing Story
Cataracts have consistently been listed as the major cause of avoidable blindness taking 47 percent of the total causes. The prevalence of blindness in children is about ten times lower as compared to that in adults. Childhood blindness remains a high priority because of the expected number of years to be lived in blindness. Bearing in mind that about half of the WHO estimated 1.4 million cases of blindness in children below the age of 5 could have been avoided, Standard Chartered Bank made a decision to lead the way in the fight against avoidable blindness.

Trachoma is the second largest cause of blindness in Kenya. It is a condition of poverty and affects communities that have poor water supplies and sanitation as well as poor health services. Northern Laikipia is one of the areas in Kenya with a high Trachoma prevalence rate. In the initial years, the bank funded surgical eye camps in Ol Malo. Standard Chartered also donated Kshs.1 million towards the eye camps and a further Kshs.2million for the construction of a dam. Through the provision of clean water, the Bank hoped to achieve a long term solution and hopefully eradicate Trachoma in this area.

Standard Chartered also launched a Trachoma intervention project in Siangan village, Samburu District. Samburu is another area with high incidences of Trachoma especially among children. The project involved prevention through education, provision of clean water and environmental improvement as well as cure through surgery and administration of antibiotics.

Through the proceeds of the Nairobi Marathon, in partnership with Christian Blind Mission, the Bank has since 2007 sponsored cataract, glaucoma and trauma related surgeries for needy children under the age of nine at five hospitals country wide.
These are:

  • Kikuyu Eye Hospital,
  • Kwale District Eye Centre, and Lighthouse for Christ Eye Centre, both at the Coast;
  • Sabatia Eye Hospital in Western Kenya; andTenwek Hospital Eye Unit in the Rift Valley.

2003- 2006
Since the inception of the Standard Chartered Bank Nairobi Marathon in 2003, all funds raised from the marathon went towards supporting the Seeing is Believing initiative at Kikuyu Eye Unit where the Bank funded all cataract surgeries for children under the age of nine.

When Standard Chartered Bank initially entered into partnership with Kikuyu Eye Hospital back in 2003, the Eye Unit was doing approximately 40 cataract operations per year. In the first year of the partnership, the cataract operations moved to 150 and in 2007 the hospital performed 1,000 operations.

In 2007 Standard Chartered Bank partnered with Christian Blind Mission (CBM) in the Seeing is Believing initiative, where CBM brought on board technical expertise in eye care. CBM has since supported the Bank by proactively identifying beneficiary hospitals, giving advice on areas of intervention and purchase of eye care equipment.

Furthermore, in 2007, Standard Chartered went ahead and initiated a relationship with Machakos Technical School for the Blind in partnership with our Global Seeing is Believing Ambassador, Henry Wanyoike. As part of the World Sight Day celebrations, staff raised money for the construction of a borehole at the school. The bank topped up the staff contribution, through the shilling-for-shilling initiative, and with an additional amount raised by Henry, the borehole was constructed.

In 2008 under the theme Hesabika and give someone the power of sight, the marathon saw over 12,000 participants take part in the Nairobi marathon in a bid to contribute to Seeing is Believing. All proceeds from the marathon amounting to Kes.12.5 million were donated to various hospitals in the country under the Seeing is Believing umbrella. The funds raised in 2008 were an increase of 33% from those of 2007. 2008 was exemplary in that The Greatest Race on Earth (GROE) also partnered with Seeing is Believing to raise funds across the world.

Kwale District Eye Centre and Sabatia Eye Hospital became the new beneficiaries of Seeing is Believing in 2008. Just like Kikuyu Eye Hospital, Sabatia and Kwale are mission hospitals offering professional eye care services to communities in Western and Coast provinces respectively. Both hospitals target the less fortunate and receive referrals from far and wide. A total of 371 congenital cataract operations were carried out in the three hospitals.

Samburu district at large has the highest rate of Trachoma prevalence in Kenya largely attributed to the pastoralists way of life. In 2008, the bank sponsored a pilot Trachoma control project in Siangan village at the heart of Samburu district at a cost of Kes.2 million. In partnership with Christian Blind Mission (CBM) and ground implementers ELCK-Arsim Dispensary, we used the World Health Organization (WHO) approved SAFE strategy (Surgery, Antibiotic, Facial Cleanliness and Environmental Improvement), a holistic management strategy to fight Trachoma at Siang an Village, Samburu District.
The following results were achieved in the 2008:

  • 15 Trachoma surgeries were carried out;
  • 800 tubes of Tetracycline Eye Ointment were distributed to the community;
  • 10 pit latrines were constructed to address the sanitation problem;
  • 3,552 trees were marked with paint to prevent them down from being cut down;
  • Construction of a rock catchment commenced.

2009 saw Standard Chartered sponsor the seventh edition of the Nairobi Marathon. The 2009 Marathon under the theme, Hesabika Tena, Run and be a hero in someone’s eyes, saw over 15,000 participants taking part.

2009 was also marked with increased awareness and support for Seeing is Believing. A combination of media support and goodwill from friends of the marathon and participants saw the contributions to Seeing is Believing increased by 16%. This contribution facilitated over 650 cataract surgeries for children under the age of nine in the five projects sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank. Lighthouse for Christ and Tenwek Hospital also came on board in 2009.

At Lechet village in the heart of Samburu district, the Bank continued with the Trachoma intervention initiative. The Bank funded another comprehensive trachoma control project where trachoma operations were carried out, tetracycline tubes and mosquito treated nets distributed. The Bank also sponsored the construction of a rock catchment for harvesting rain water to rid the community of the perennial water problems and improve sanitation systems.

With the proceeds of the 2010 Marathon i.e. Kshs.16.5 million, Standard Chartered Bank sponsored over 800 cataract, glaucoma and trauma related surgeries and was able to purchase state-of-the-art equipment for two of the beneficiary hospitals as well as put up a child friendly nursery and playroom at Lighthouse for Christ.

Standard Chartered Bank Kenya also launched a pilot project in Kwale, where it caters for follow-up treatment for children who have undergone surgery until they turn 7 years. The program currently has 30 children. This is in line with the Bank’s objective of providing surgery to as many needy children as possible but at the same time guaranteeing quality.

The theme of the 2011 marathon, Share the Vision, built on what we had achieved over the previous eight editions, especially in its contribution to Seeing is Believing. Through this 9th edition of the Nairobi Marathon, the Bank raised Kes.17 million.The funds will be used for the purchase of medical equipment, training of medical personnel and eye surgeries.