David Oliver Relin, who will be the next President’s Forum Series speaker on Jan. 25, recently published an article, “The Visionary” in the December 2009/January 2010 issue of Adventure Magazine.
“To cure the blind,” Relin writes, “It sounds impossible. Biblical even. And that’s exactly why Geoff Tabin-climber, medical pioneer, human dynamo-is just the guy to do it.”
The author accompanied Tabin to Ethiopia, where he and members of his team from the Himalayan Cataract Project planned to perform sight-restoring cataract surgery on as many as 800 people. He writes:
“I’ve come with Geoff Tabin and a medical team organized by his Himalayan Cataract Project. Their goal is to conduct the largest eye surgery camp in Africa’s history, restoring sight to as many as 800 people. Patients have traveled by bus, by donkey cart, and on foot. By 8 a.m. it’s already hot, and more than 400 people ribbon the hospital building, squeezed into every sliver of available shade. We arrived on a predawn flight from Addis Ababa. But any notion of sticking to our original plan-checking into a hotel, showering, and fortifying ourselves with coffee-evaporates when Tabin makes eye contact with the few of his patients who are still able to see. ‘We’ve got to . . . get to work,’ he says. You can hear the weight of 400 blind Ethiopians’ expectations in his voice.”
By the time they were finished, surgery had been performed on more than 900 people.
The complete article can be found online.
Relin is the co-author of the bestselling book, “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time.” His work as an investigative journalist has been committed to increasing awareness about critical human rights issues in this region and around the world. His interviews with child soldiers (including a profile of teenager Ishmael Beah, who would later author the bestseller “A Long Way Gone”) have been included in Amnesty International reports and his investigation into the way the INS abused children in its custody contributed to the reorganization of that agency.
Relin is a graduate of Vassar and was awarded the prestigious Teaching/Writing Fellowship at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. After Iowa, he received a Michener Fellowship to support his groundbreaking 1992 bicycle trip through the length of Vietnam. He spent two additional years reporting about Vietnam opening to the world while he was based in Hue, Vietnam’s former imperial capital. In addition to Vietnam and Pakistan, he has traveled to, and reported from, much of East Asia.
Relin recently finished a new book about blindness in the developing world. He is currently at work on a book about food, a children’s book with the artist Amy Ruppel and a novel about land mine survivors in Vietnam. He is a contributing editor for Parade and over the years has won dozens of national awards for his work as both an editor and investigative reporter.
The President’s Forum talk will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 25, at the Smith Opera House. It is free and open to the public. The College Store on St. Clair Street is offering a 25 percent discount on “Three Cups of Tea.”
The President’s Forum Series, established in the winter of 2000 by President Mark D. Gearan, is designed to bring a variety of speakers to campus to share their knowledge and ideas with students, faculty and staff of the Colleges, as well as with interested community members.