Laura Fawaz, TMO
Dearborn Heights, MI–The Al Hassan Foundation is an organization dedicated to serving the population of Southern Iraq with free eye care services.
Last Saturday night was the first formal fundraiser that was held in the US for the foundation. It was a Saving Sight Bowl-A-Thon, held at Cherry Hill Lanes in Dearborn Heights. Not only was this an evening for people to get together and enjoy a night of bowling, but it also brought awareness and funds to the foundation.
According to the statics from the Al Hassan Foundation, if the rate of cataract operations were to continue at its current pace, it would take 159 years to clear the current backlog of adults visually impaired by cataracts.
Located in Najaf, Iraq, many people come from across the country to receive the free eye care services of the Al Hassan Foundation. With 70% of the Iraqi population unemployed, any kind of free health care services are in demand by the country as a whole. The foundation conducted several population-based surveys in Iraq, studying the frequency of blindness and visual impairment in those over 50 years of age to determine what type of eye care specially is needed.
Dr. Haidar Al Hakim, the founder of the Al-Hassan foundation, was born in Iraq, and moved with his family to the United Kingdom at the age of four years. It wasnâ€™t until 2004 when he went back to visit him home country. â€œHe decided that there is a dire need for eye care there, so he opened up a free eye care clinic, doing anything that the people need, with no charge,â€ said Sura Hassan, the organizer of the Saving Sight Bowl-A-Thon.
Determined to make his vision a reality, upon Al Hakimâ€™s return to England, he and his father established the Al Hassan Foundation, a British charity with aims of funding a sight-saving treatment for women, children and the elderly, in promoting research into the prevention of blindness, as well as many others. Initially supported by a grant from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Al Hakim made a series of trips over the next three years to Iraq. In July 2010, the newly renovated Al Hassan Eye Clinic opened its doors and has been serving Iraq.
This Saving Sight Bowl-A-Thon was the first official event for the foundation held in the US. â€œThough they have received donations from people the US in the past for lasers eye surgeries, but there has never been a formal fundraiser, so this will be the first and InshAllah many more to come,â€ Hassan added.