Bishop Thorkelson Helps
Build Eye Hospital in Pakistan
Tom Thorkelson and his wife Sheila
For many years now Bishop
Tom Thorkelson has been a true friend of the Muslim community.
Many gleefully recall how one particular year the Muslim
community was faced with problems of sorts in finding a
suitable place for holding the Eid prayers. It was Bishop
Tom Thorkelson who came to their rescue. He talked with
the army personnel and soon thereafter the Muslims got the
permission to hold the Eid prayers at the hanger in Tustin.
This was not an isolated instance to demonstrate his abiding
friendship with the Muslims. Bishop Thorkelson has proved
his strong bonds with the community time and again with
remarkable consistency. Recently, he furnished fresh proof
of his strong bonds with the Muslim community.
About two years ago, he was instrumental in establishing
a wholesome rapport between Dr. William Jackson of Deseret
International and Mr. Saghir Aslam of Saba Trust. Both came
to nurse respect and admiration for each other. Gary Sabin,
an executive of Excel International Cooperation and a great
supporter of Deseret International, joined the duo in drawing
up plans for establishing an eye hospital in the northern
areas of Pakistan where the incidence of eye ailments is
quite high. This could not have been possible without Bishop
Thorkelson’s efforts to bring Saghir Aslam and Dr.
William Jackson together.
Dr Jackson had visited the earthquake–ravaged area
in Northern Pakistan. It was then that he felt the pressing
need to establish a state-of-the-art eye hospital in one
of the villages in Chanan near Kharian next to where the
Wisdom House School and degree college established by the
Saba Trust stand.
Earlier this year, Dr. Jackson and Gary Sabin, visited the
Saba Trust head offices, its distribution center for clothes
and food, the Wisdom House girls and boys school, and the
Trust’s degree college for women in Pakistan. It was
then that Dr. Jackson selected a piece of land that he had
chosen earlier and which he ultimately designated to be
the site for the eye hospital.
Gary Sabin, who has demonstrated profound devotion for uplifting
the cause of the underprivileged, had a tete-a-tete talk
with Dr. Jackson and following a series of meetings with
Saghir Aslam, Dr. Usman Saeed and Abdul Shakoor, decided
to support the singular venture of the eye hospital single-handedly.
Plans were drawn up for the establishment of the eye hospital
on a brisk note.
Sabin has served as Chairman, CEO, and President since founding
Excel in 1978. Currently, he also serves as Chairman of
the Sabin Children’s Foundation and Vice Chairman
of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. He is deeply involved
in helping the underprivileged class throughout the world.
The Sabin Children’s Foundation is a non-profit public
benefit charity dedicated to relieving the distress of children.
It was founded in 1994 and sponsors worthy charitable projects,
which dramatically change the lives of children all over
the world. A portion of Excel’s profit’s are
donated to assist the mission of SCF.
One of the most unique features of SCF is that it has almost
no overhead expenses, making it the leanest and most efficient
charitable organization of its kind. Those who work in SCF
are volunteers committed to making a difference in the lives
of children. There are no executive salaries. There are
no administrative expenses other than minimal incidental
costs incurred in the direct delivery of programs and benefits.
It is fortunate that the eye hospital being established
in Pakistan will have the services of Dr. Usman Saeed and
a team of capable doctors who have given great performance
with their outreach in different parts of Pakistan. They
did tremendous work after the earthquake in Azad Kashmir
and the Northwest Frontier Province. They performed many
eye surgeries and examined thousands of patients in Pakistan.
They have also visited other countries such as Sudan and
Afghanistan during the last few years and performed 960,000
eye surgeries. Dr Saeed and his team work closely with the
Railway Hospital which has held many camps in Haripur, Abboabad
and surrounding villages during the last several years.
All this was made possible, thanks to the well-meaning Bishop
Tom Thorkelson who made arrangements for the donation of
three ambulances to the Saba Trust. The Railway Hospital
used these ambulances as a mobile clinic which has proven
to be the best use of these ambulances.
Bishop Thorkelson along with his wife Sheila and their son
John Jones - an intern during Ronald Reagan’s presidency
- visited Pakistan from one end to the other and have enjoyed
the hospitality of Muslims in Pakistan. The Saba Trust was
fortunate to have them as speakers at its World Interfaith
Peace Conference which brought representatives of many faiths
together to build bridges between different religions thanks
to the initiative of Mr. Saghir Aslam who heads the Saba
Trust with singular dedication and has many success stories
to his credit. In attendance were Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis,
several denominations of Christians, and Muslims.