$28k raised to help Ugandan acid victim

In just six hours, an online donation page set up by three Singapore expatriates to help a Ugandan acid attack victim come here for surgery to restore her sight has raised more than US$20,000 (S$28,000).

Many donors were Singaporeans.

The fund, hosted on crowdfunding site GoFundMe, was set up by Mrs Roberta Ciccone, director of the Singapore Expat Wives community, and two members, Ms Joanna Cockle and Ms Jude McWilliams, after reading about Ms Namale Allen's plight in The Straits Times yesterday.

In May last year, when she was 26, a man flung acid on her, melting her face and causing her to go blind.

Her situation came to the attention of humanitarian and social activist Lynsay Lewis, 34, who is trying to raise US$10,000 to bring Ms Allen to Singapore, where eye surgeon Donald Tan has offered to review her case and, if need be, operate on her pro bono.

He is one of the world's top experts at osteo-odonto-keratoprosthesis, a procedure which involves reconstructing a new eye by using a tiny plastic lens and one of the patient's own teeth.

Mrs Ciccone, 37, said she posted the link to Ms Lewis' original donation page on the Upasuaji Africa charity website onto the Singapore Expat Wives' Facebook page, but members soon commented that they were unable to donate as a US address was needed.

This was when Mrs Ciccone, Ms Cockle and Ms McWilliams decided to set up the GoFundMe page.

By 9.30pm yesterday, it had raised US$21,685. Mrs Ciccone hopes to eventually raise double the original target of US$20,000.

Mrs Ciccone, who has lived in Singapore for more than eight years, said that setting up the page was also her way of helping the expat community to give back to Singapore.

The success of the donation page was a pleasant surprise for her. "It really shows the generosity of the people. Many contributors to this fundraiser are Singaporeans, and it goes to show that Singaporeans and expats can work together," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2015, with the headline '$28k raised to help Ugandan acid victim'. Print Edition | Subscribe