It has always been a privilege to me to speak for the blind and the deaf and for prevention, but I have not had the emotion of awe that I am experiencing today.
Here is the beginning of the first eye hospital south of the Cairo which you have invited me to open. Like Cortez I feel that I am "standing on a peak in Darien," beyond which stretches the vast ocean of the unaccomplished.
What a magnificent step forward! Proudly I think what vision one man had years ago of this eye hospital and the multitude of channels of service which would flow from it through the dark continent. And several doctors had daring projects of disseminating eye hygiene among people scattered over the land, and here is the genesis of their beneficence! Ever since my youth I have championed prevention of blindness, and now I feel like a simple pioneer among you are taking up a trail of unimagined (sic) extent and unique development. Yes, like most Africa (sic), the undertaking challenges and inspires to unceasing endeavor.
It is a disgrace to any land where the knowledge of eye ailments has been accumulated not to follow up its responsibility to every frontier where avoidable desease (sic) occurs. But I am sure South Africa will do its best to bring the vision of its best citizens and the courage of its doctors to a far-reaching harvest of sight saved that transforms the future possibilities of human beings.
Can you imagine the unmeasured belt of darkness between here and Cairo? Can you picture the anguish of thousands of natives who go blind before any ophthalmic aid reaches them? You cannot avert present disaster, but by being ever ready at the trumpet-call of the crusade against needless misery, you can accomplish much. You can assist your doctors by finding large financial means to establish more eye hospitals, to equip mobile clinics for rural areas to teach the natives eye hygiene and to train nurses who will carry the gospel of eye care farther and farther into the heart of Africa. Is this an idle dream? Nay, civilizations are founded on new dreams of good, and the coming civilization of Africa will achieve still more because there beats at its heart the dream of safeguarding the faculties and the health of all its people.
Affectionately I bid you goodbye, and leave South Africa with a fervent God speed to you, doctors, nurses and all people in the Union in your mission to open unnumbered blind eyes, and to hasten the day when there shall not be unnecessary loss of sight among mankind.