Arthur Jenkyns was Chairman of the Board of Operation Eyesight Universal, a Calgary-based organization which funds programs devoted to sight restoration and the prevention of blindness, in 14 developing countries.
Born and educated in Winnipeg, Mr. Jenkyns was involved in the food industry with Swift Canadian for many years, before entering the insurance brokerage business. He took early retirement from Marsh and McLennan Ltd. to become the first executive director of Operation Eyesight.
In 1933, Dr. Ben Gullison, a Canadian medical doctor, started what grew into a small mission hospital in Sompeta on the east coast of India. Over the next decade, the hospital began concentrating on the treatment of eye problems, with an estimated 200,000 curable blind persons within travelling distance of the hospital. In the early 1960s Dr. Gullison undertook a fundraising tour across Canada, explaining that thousands of blind persons had cataracts that could be easily removed, and their sight restored, for less than $10 per eye.
His address to the First Baptist Church in Calgary inspired Mr. Jenkyns and several business colleagues, who pledged one another that they would finance cataract surgery in India on an ongoing basis. Others quickly followed suit, and a neophyte Calgary support group was formed. Mr. Jenkyns ran Operation Eyesight in his spare time for 13 years, retiring in 1977 in order to work full time with the organization.
By that time, the group had raised more than $1 million for Operation Eyesight Universal and saw the work extended in India as well as Bangladesh, Nepal, Kenya, Malawi, Peru and Haiti, among other countries.
Since 1963, more than nine million people have received treatment under the program. Operation Eyesight helps finance the building and operation of modern ophthalmic clinics and hospital eye wards. These facilities are largely staffed by nationals working in their own countries, some trained by Operation Eyesight.
Since the majority of people needing eye care in developing countries are located in rural areas with no access to doctors or facilities, Operation Eyesight provides modern Mobile Eye Units, staffed by trained personnel, to examine and treat thousands of people each year in outlying districts. Where population warrants, patients are examined at eye camps, with treatment and surgery carried out in large tents or community buildings.
In addition to his international work, Mr. Jenkyns maintained a life-long affiliation with the Boy Scouts. He was now honorary regional commissioner for the Calgary region, Scouts Canada. In 1971, he was decorated by the Governor General with the Silver Wolf. He received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Calgary and an honorary fellowship of the Academy of General Education in Manipal, India. He was made an officer in the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.