Toronto’s Nanji Family came to Canada as refugees and promised to pay it forward. Now, they’re helping U of T eye surgeons restore sight—and hope—to people around the world by giving the gift of sight.
“We really wish, from the heart, to give people the gift of sight so they can see the light of all the world,” says Pyarali G. Nanji, explaining why he and his family are making a major gift to support eye care initiatives at the University of Toronto’s Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences.
Restoring vision, training doctors
The generous donation will establish a five-year term Chair for the Department, which will be held by the Department Chair, Dr. Sherif El-Defrawy—an eye surgeon, researcher and award-winning teacher. A large portion of the funds will be dedicated to capacity-building global health missions that El-Defrawy and other faculty members lead in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana and Haiti, among other low- and middle-income countries.
“We go and spend our days performing cataract surgery and corneal transplantation surgery, restoring vision and sometimes allowing people to see for the first time in their lives,” El-Defrawy explains. Local surgeons who have not had the opportunity to be trained in eye surgery attend the sessions, first observing and then doing operations themselves under supervision. In the evenings, he says, the Canadians will give a lecture or host a discussion about a surgical topic.
When they return home, they have not only transformed the lives of hundreds of patients, but they leave the local surgeons newly equipped to continue the work. “This gift will make an enormous difference,” El-Defrawy says.
Read more Boundless: The Campaign for the University of Toronto – Dated: June 24, 2017