New organization raises awareness for children’s rights and sight


Courtesy of DCI CWRU

On Oct. 8, Distressed Children and Infants International (DCI) hosted a benefit dinner to raise funds and awareness for impoverished children in developing countries. DCI recently established a new chapter at CWRU.

Founded in 2003, Distressed Children and Infants International (DCI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children’s rights and alleviating the effects of poverty. Based in the United States, DCI has chapters across the U.S. that contribute to service programs in developing countries such as Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Nicaragua.

The DCI chapter at Case Western Reserve University is DCI’s fourth college chapter, after its chapters at Yale University, Stony Brook University and Quinnipiac University. Established last spring, the CWRU chapter will contribute to DCI’s overall efforts by raising funds for impoverished children and raising awareness for children’s rights.

DCI leads various programs, ranging from healthcare for the underprivileged to orphan support to youth education. For now, DCI at CWRU focuses on the Blindness Prevention Program, which provides eye screenings, corrective surgeries and vision health education to disadvantaged populations in regions of Bangladesh, India and Nepal.

In these regions, pregnant women who are malnourished can have babies who are born with a high risk of developing congenital cataracts, which, if not detected and corrected in time, can lead to visual impairment and even blindness. Visual impairment can significantly affect a child’s livelihood and his or her opportunity to access education.

“I think a lot of things get impaired. Not just education, but also even relationships,” said Raeesa Hossain, the president of DCI at CWRU.

According to Hossain, congenital cataracts can be easily corrected with surgery. However the problem for many impoverished families is that they are unable to afford the cost. This is where the Blindness Prevention program can intervene, and where the CWRU chapter is concentrating its effort. The money it raises can be used to purchase corrective lenses and provide surgeries for children who are at risk for visual impairment.

$25 can give a child a pair of glasses and $50 is sufficient to provide one surgery, according to Hossain.

“$50 here is not a lot for us to raise or spend, even, compared to how much it is for them because they can’t even get that,” said Hossain.

Blindness prevention is also the primary concern of Founder and Executive Director of DCI Dr. Ehsan Hoque. Hoque himself suffered from congenital cataracts as a child living in Bangladesh. Although he was fortunate enough to receive the necessary treatment, his childhood experience inspired him to help those who are less fortunate.

At a recent benefit dinner at CWRU, Hoque gave a speech on children’s rights and health. The dinner raised over $400, which can provide up to eight corrective surgeries for children in need. All of the proceeds from the dinner and future events will be contributed to the Blindness Prevention program.

As a newly inaugurated chapter, DCI at CWRU is still recruiting new members. There will be other small-scale events later this semester aiming to educate students about the organization’s cause.