Amy Shelly – My Volunteer Experience
I began working with CSF’s newly developed Research, Evaluation, Advocacy and Development (READ) Centre in March 2008 as a Research, Advocacy and Policy Advisor. My placement within CSF was made possible by the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) program, an Australian Government – AusAID initiative which supports skilled young Australians to live and work in the Asia Pacific Region. With a background in child public health research and an interest in childhood disability I was keen to work alongside CSF staff to assist them in their mission to eliminate avoidable childhood blindness and to create an inclusive, right-based and barrier free society for children with vision related disabilities.
CSF is one of the leading forces behind the push to achieve the goals of ‘Vision 2020: The Right to Sight’ in Bangladesh. Through their Key Informant case finding method CSF has developed a database of 15,000 blind and visually impaired children. Furthermore, CSF has been a driving force behind the developed of the Child Sight Network which has 59 member organizations. More recently CSF opened the Wahida Matin Memorial and CSF Child Vision Centre, a medical centre dedicated to improving the outcome of blind children throughout Bangladesh through cataract surgery and clinical assessment. The development of the READ Centre is a further step forward for CSF and will add to the current knowledge base related to the prevalence of childhood blindness, treatments and interventions in Bangladesh.
My role within CSF has involved evaluation, advocacy and research. Specifically, my focus has been on assisting to strengthen the research output of CSF’s READ Centre through project evaluation and the completion of research papers for publication in international journals (including assessing barriers to the uptake of eye care services and knowledge, attitudes and practices of parents in relation to childhood blindness). I have been closely involved in the evaluation of the Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation (CCBR) Project currently underway in Naogaon in rural Bangladesh. This project is multi-faceted and includes case detection, referral for services, home based rehabilitation, community advocacy, self-help groups, inclusive schooling, vocational training and employment. Qualitative data suggests that this project is having a profoundly positive influence on blind and visually impaired children and their families in rural Bangladesh.
My time with CSF has allowed for extensive involvement with CSF staff and CSF’s beneficiaries. I have witnessed first hand the dramatic affect CSF programs have had on improving the lives and future prospects of blind and visually impaired children throughout Bangladesh. Furthermore, I have been fortunate enough to work with an organization strongly dedicated to the task of improving the lives of those affected by blindness and visual impairment. With my time at CSF coming to an end I can confidently say that CSF is an important organization which significantly improves the quality of life of those it helps.
Australian Youth Ambassador for Development
Research, Advocacy and Policy Advisor
Child Sight Foundation, READ Centre