When I was first able to talk to my mother after her surgery, she said, fighting back the tears: "I just couldn't stop thinking about not seeing my children and grandchildren again." For so many people, that painful thought becomes a reality. A reality that in many cases can be easily avoided.
The heat of the election campaign this week gave way to a bit more light, with the publication of the manifestos of the major political parties. Rather than piecing together the parties' respective positions on development from speeches, blog posts or remarks in Parliament, we now have a formal written statement of what they would seek to achieve if successful in their bid to form the next Government. So what did we learn?
So I was excited to read this year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates, as they have drawn attention specifically to these diseases which are part of a group called Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). Neglected, not just because people haven't heard of them but because they are diseases of the most neglected people.
Of the billion people worldwide who have a disability, the vast majority live in developing countries. People with disabilities represent some of the most excluded of all groups in the community. They are less likely to have access to healthcare and education, and in turn find making a livelihood and escaping poverty that much more difficult, if not impossible.
This week 69-year-old Winesi March, who has been blind for two years, will undergo life-changing surgery as the world watches. Twenty-four hours later anyone with an internet connection can rejoin Winesi and his family in rural Malawi as his bandages are removed and he sees his grandson for the first time.
The call for DFID to make concrete commitments to include people with disabilities has been growing over the last decade. 2014 marks the year where these calls have been heard. We look forward to working with DFID to ensure people with disabilities are at the heart of the decisions to come, the impact of which could change the lives of millions.
The evidence is clear. Without specific methods of ensuring and monitoring inclusion, people with disabilities will miss out. Even catch-all terms such as "vulnerable or marginalised" (with all the potential stigmatising effects those terms can have) are not enough.
At Sightsavers we have used UK aid in recent years to screen 40 million people for potential sight problems, provide 1.2 million people with sight-restoring surgery, and protect 75 million people from neglected tropical diseases such as trachoma. On a larger scale, every year the UK aid budget educates more children than live in the whole of the UK...
Last week I heard that Lawrence, a young boy I met a while ago in Kenya, had passed his exams and scored in the top 25 per cent of children in the country. What is exceptional is that Lawrence is blind.
Times of austerity and highly savvy consumers mean challenging times for charities. In order to keep existing supporters and attract new ones, charities need a sound understanding of customers' buying behaviour, attitudes and habits. This is where Response One comes in.