Page last updated at 10:18 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 11:18 UK

7/7 family bring eye-care hope

By Esther Hyman

Esther (left) and Miriam Hyman
Miriam (right) was killed in the Tavistock Square explosion
Three years after losing her sister Miriam in the 7 July 2005 London bombings, Esther Hyman has travelled to India for the inauguration of a children's eye-care centre in Miriam's name.

She describes the accomplishment born out of the loss of her sister.

Soon after losing Miriam "Mim" Hyman in the 7 July attacks, her loved ones felt the need to "do something", to create a constructive channel for our energies, to find positive ways to remember her and forge optimistic associations that don't dwell on the way we lost her.

Initially we established a memorial fund within the eye-care charity Orbis UK, and planned to use the interest on funds raised to provide a few weeks' training annually, in London, for ophthalmologists from the developing world.

More recently we decided to set up the Miriam Hyman Memorial Trust and invest in a more tangible project.

Miriam discovered in her teens that she was short-sighted, and was overwhelmed at being able to see the leaves on trees when she first wore glasses.

There was little in life that she took for granted and, as an artist, she was highly aware her enjoyment of nature and of art would have been greatly diminished without the sense of sight.


Video footage shot by Esther Hyman at the centre

A book of Mim's paintings and pastels was released a year after the London attacks.

She found expression through art in many media - and those who have seen her work know her sense of colour was second only to Mother Nature's.

This, then, was the origin of our decision to collaborate with a vision-based charity.

We wanted to continue to direct funds into vision-based work, and discovered the LV Prasad Eye Institutes (LVPEI) in India.

Perfect match

The Eastern Indian State of Orissa has a population of 50 million, a largely rural area that would otherwise have negligible eye-care services.

LVPEI are committed to offering the highest quality of treatment irrespective of ability to pay.

At the time we contacted them they were about to start the search for a sponsor to equip their new children's eye care centre within their two-year-old institute at Bhubaneswar.

Our needs and theirs were a perfect match. Their offer to name the new children's centre after Miriam touched us beyond description.

L V Prasad Eye Institute, Bhubaneswar
The Bhubaneswar institute offers care irrespective of ability to pay

Many debilitating eye conditions are preventable or treatable when addressed early, so the quality of life and, more significantly, the life chances of children who are successfully treated will improve beyond measure.

All types of paediatric eye conditions are being treated at the centre in Miriam's name, from childhood cataracts to life-threatening tumours.

In India, no childhood screening programmes have been in place such as the ones we take for granted in the UK, but LVPEI have several initiatives that will contribute to prevention rather than cure.

Projected figures are for eight surgical procedures and 40 out-patient appointments per day at the centre.

It was inaugurated on 3 July 2008, just a few days before the third anniversary of the London bombings.

Living memorial

The partnership that has been created between us could not be more appropriate.

We feel Miriam's attitude to life is reflected in the levels of commitment shown by every member of staff at LVPEI.

The inauguration of the Miriam Hyman Eye Care Centre in Bhubaneswar was attended by several top-level dignitaries from the Indian government, the British Council and the Indian Administrative Service.

Despite it being a little overwhelming for me to realise how seriously this project was being taken, I was made to feel part of the team.

Our activities in her memory have nurtured the seeds of caring and generosity that Miriam sowed during her lifetime

I saw the dedication and hard work that has built it the centre.

The Miriam Hyman Memorial Trust has raised 70,000 in a two-and-a-half-year series of fund-raisers and this has been combined with compensation received after 7 July 2005.

We hope to help with the expansion of the eye-care centre, provide ophthalmological training programmes and develop their vital childhood screening initiative.

Three years between losing Miriam in the London bombings and opening the Miriam Hyman Children's Eye Care Centre in India - three years counteracting the devastating negativity and creating a living memorial that will benefit thousands.

Our activities in her memory have nurtured the seeds of caring and generosity that Miriam sowed during her lifetime, and those seeds will surely flourish under the auspices of the Miriam Hyman Children's Eye Care Centre.


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