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Vision Excellence Awards: Helena Ndume

“To thousands of people, avoidable blindness is the difference between surviving and starving. My biggest goal in life is to end preventable blindness, and to build a team of committed young people that will continue to fight against it, so even when I am not here, they will carry on that mission.”
-Dr. Helena Ndume

For over 20 years, Dr. Helena Ndume has worked as a volunteer ophthalmologist for SEE International. Since joining SEE in 1995, Dr. Ndume has restored sight to over 30,000 individuals around the world, the majority being in her home country of Namibia. In addition to hosting numerous traveling surgeons and medical teams to aid humanitarian eyecare efforts in Namibia, Dr. Ndume has traveled to various countries on sight-restoring missions of her own. Throughout her time with SEE, she has worked tirelessly and selflessly to transform the lives of tens of thousands of patients.

Dr. Ndume grew up in South Africa during the apartheid, where she witnessed the inhumane living conditions of those surrounding her. Determined to make the world a better place, she decided to become a doctor so she could spend her life helping others. After attending medical school in Germany, she completed her fellowship in India, where she was exposed to thousands of individuals living in poverty due to preventable blindness. Realizing the global need for humanitarian eyecare, Dr. Ndume returned to Namibia to dedicate her life to restoring sight and providing a brighter future for patients in need.

Throughout her many years of humanitarian service, Dr. Ndume has received exceedingly honorable awards recognizing her efforts. In 2015, she became the first recipient of the United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize, an award given by the United Nations for her dedicated service to humanity.

Dr. Ndume’s passionate commitment to serving the less fortunate has enabled thousands of people have regained their livelihood and independence through the precious gift of sight. Among the countless visually impaired and blind patients Dr. Ndume has helped, there have been grandparents who can finally see their grandchildren, mothers who can finally look upon their children’s faces, individuals who can return to work to support their families, and children who can now attend school. SEE is honored to have Dr. Ndume as a part of our volunteer team and to nominate her for this award, as her relentless efforts to eradicate preventable blindness are both inspirational and commendable.