Blind World Magazine

Hollywood actress Debra Winger wants Indians to help the visually impaired.

January 13, 2006. - Ernakulam,Kerala, India.

New Delhi: Hollywood actress Debra Winger, who is here to promote eye care, is planning to approach Indians abroad to help visually impaired people in their native country.

"India has the highest percentage of visually impaired people and 80 percent of them are curable. When I go back I want to spread the message, especially among Indians abroad, to come forward and help these people," Winger said Thursday.

Winger, who at the age of 17 met with an accident that left her temporarily blind but she came out of it, is today a global ambassador for Sight Savers International.

"The purpose of my trip is not to promote but to learn because I have not been to India before," said the actress who starred in such films as "An Officer And A Gentleman" and "Terms Of Endearment".

"India is important because of the partnership between Sight Savers International and Venu Eye Institute and Research Centre (VEIRC) and for their work," she added.

She went to Rewari in Haryana Jan 5 to see a community-based programme run by Venu - the Indian partner for Sight Savers - for visually impaired people. She visited camps for cataract operations and spent time with the patients and she was moved by the work of field workers.

"I met the field workers in Rewari district, the important link in this chain that works. They are being trained by Venu and doing a great job. They travel to the remotest area to help these visually impaired people."

She was surprised to see them travelling by bicycle and suggested to former Indian cricket captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, who was also present at the conference, that the roads should be improved.

Pataudi, who has a false eye, has been associated with Venu as its Sight Ambassador for the last 10 years.

He said: "This is a global problem and lots of people are affected. Me and my family is associated with Venu for more than a decade and have been working for these people."

The actress who has been involved in a lot of charity work joined the organisation two-and-a-half years ago and before coming to India she went to Kenya.

Debra started her acting career at the age of 17 but it was the John Travolta- starrer "Urban Cowboy" that made her a star.

Later she worked in successful films like "An Officer And A Gentleman", "Terms Of Endearment" and "Shadowlands". But she quit films when she was at her prime and settled with actor Arliss Howard.

Anil Tara, CEO of VEIRC; Tanuja Joshi, managing director of VEIRC; and Neil Thorns, communications manager of Sight Savers International also attended the press conference.

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