If you were given the gift of sight after ten years, what is the first movie you would choose to watch on the big screen?

This is the question that Ster-Kinekor and its flagship CSI programme, Vision Mission, is asking South Africans, with the launch of a new, and life-changing, campaign called #OpenEyes. Launched in cinema, on radio and out of home platforms on Friday, 29 April, #OpenEyes is encouraging everyone to join in the conversation and suggest what movie they think Philani should watch with his new eyes, and why.

For the past ten years, Vision Mission has been responsible for giving the gift of clear sight to thousands of underprivileged school children across the country through eye tests and the fitting of pairs of spectacles. With this exciting new project, it is set to change the life of a young man from Katlehong in the East Rand, forever.

Vision Mission has assisted with two corneal transplants. Now, the successful CSI programme has embarked on a third such operation, through #OpenEyes, by performing a double corneal transplant operation on 20-year-old Philani Twala.

Philani, who until recently was almost blind, had the first corneal transplant operation a few months ago. With the assistance of #OpenEyes, he has recently undergone the second transplant operation on his other eye, under the expertise of Dr Akiel Asvat, a Johannesburg-based ophthalmologist who agreed to perform the operation on a pro-bono basis.

Through #OpenEyes, Ster-Kinekor and Vision Mission have made it possible for Philani’s life-changing operation to restore his sight. Following the recovery period after the second operation, Philani will soon experience a ‘great moment’ with Ster-Kinekor, and all of South Africa is invited to make it even more memorable.

Bradley Knowles, General Manager: Marketing of Ster-Kinekor Theatres, says: “We are asking South Africans to come on board with us and suggest what movie they think Philani should watch with his new eyes, as his first big-screen cinema experience. Our promise to our customers is a ‘great moment at its greatest’ and we certainly think this is going to be one of Philani’s ‘greatest moments’ – with everyone’s input, of course.

“During the operation and recovery process, Ster-Kinekor Vision Mission has been following and documenting Philani’s incredible story – and the impact that the restoration of sight will have on this young life. Through #OpenEyes, we will engage with the South African public to update them on his progress, as we ask them to share with us the title of their favourite blockbuster movie of all time, the one that they think Philani should watch with his new eyes.

“The public is asked to upload a short video clip or comment with their movie title recommendation, and why that is their choice, to Ster-Kinekor’s Facebook or Twitter, using #OpenEyes. We hope they will then share it on their own social media sites, and encourage their family, friends and followers to join in the conversation,” comments Knowles.

The #OpenEyes campaign has been designed to highlight, and raise awareness on a national scale, of Vision Mission’s involvement in the plight of thousands of needy South Africans who require a corneal transplant, but who do not have the means.

#OpenEyes Philani Twala 1-1

This campaign, and the ongoing work that Vision Mission and its supportive partners continue to do in the field of assessing and improving the sight of young South Africans, is in the large made possible through the generosity of Ster-Kinekor’s loyal customers.

Its cinema audiences have accumulated more than R500 000.00 per year over the past ten years. With every donation of R2.50 (or more) added to the price of a movie ticket when booking online or at one of the cinemas’ self-service terminals, caring customers have contributed to 281 100 underprivileged children being screened for refractive sight errors, the provision of more than 80 000 optometric tests, and fitting 12 800 pairs of spectacles, to the value of R14 million, to as many needy youngsters.

Vision Mission’s new focus is on the desperate need for corneal transplants to give the gift of sight to thousands of people suffering from this treatable affliction. It is hoped that Philani’s uplifting story is the first of many that Ster-Kinekor will be able to tell in the future.

“So, the next time you visit the cinema or book online, we ask you to ‘opt in’ during the booking process, to make a contribution to Ster-Kinekor’s Vision Mission initiative. Giving someone the precious gift of clear sight – something most of us take for granted, but a life-changing event for someone like Philani – is as simple as making a donation of just R2.50,” concludes Knowles.

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Brent Lindeque
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and man in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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