Added: (Mon Dec 04 2000)

Pressbox (Press Release) - 28 year-old legally blind woman, Caroline Casey, is to trek an incredible 1000 km around India for charity - on an elephant. She plans to leave the UK in early January 2001 for the South Indian state of Kerala, where she will begin a four-month odyssey across the state, visiting Sight Savers International’s ‘eye camps’ for local people along the way.

Whilst Caroline’s eye condition is unfortunately irreversible, 80% of the world’s blindness could have been prevented or cured with the right treatment. The venture will raise £250,000 for Sight Savers International, the UK’s leading charity combating blindness in developing countries, the National Council for the Blind (Ireland) and Protection of the Asian Elephant.

Caroline will acquire her elephant in India, and must learn how to ride it, care for it and feed it before embarking on the trip through terrain which will require the party - including a guide and an Indian Mahout (elephant handler) - to camp throughout.

For Caroline, the trip is primarily to raise funds for charity, but it is also about challenging popular perceptions of disability. Her own severe visual impairment means that she is registered blind but she has no reservations about attempting a journey which few people, sighted or otherwise, would consider making: “I am so excited about the trip. It has been a dream of mine for so long now, I just can’t wait to get started” she said.

Paula Seager, Head of Communications at Sight Savers International said, “No visually impaired person has ever attempted a trip like this before, as far as we know. It is an incredible undertaking which will allow Caroline to actually meet some of the people whose sight will be restored with the money she raises.”

Mark Shand, author of ‘Travels on My Elephant’, is supporting the project, and a proportion of the funds raised will be donated to Protection of the Asian Elephant that aims to stop the increasing threat to Asian elephants caused by the destruction of their natural habitat.

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For further information, please contact Shella Davis on 01444 446655.

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