Nizar Mamdani is no stranger to press clubs. When he worked and lived in Omaha, Nebraska, Nizar was a member of the Omaha Press Club, which has this mission: “To promote excellence in communications and media professions through fellowship, education and advocacy of freedom of information.”
While he moved to Naples a few years ago, Nizar recently learned about the Press Club of Southwest Florida through Facebook, attended several lunch programs, and eagerly applied for membership.
Nizar was born in Tanzania, educated in Tokyo and is fluent in seven languages. He previously served as the executive director of international healthcare services, Nebraska Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). The journey to his relationship to the medical center began with his wife’s cancer diagnosis in 1999. They evaluated the leading cancer centers for her specific type of cancer and selected a physician at the UNMC for her treatment. While Nizar’s wife died of cancer after 16 months of treatment, he was impressed with the organization. He offered to serve as an ambassador for UNMC throughout the world because of his international business connections. Over his five-year commitment, Nizar established partnerships with 133 institutions in 45 countries and brought in hundreds of patients from 57 countries for treatment.
Nizar now focuses most of his energy as CEO of First Sight, LLC, an international nonprofit that provides free eyeglasses to children and adults in the neediest communities throughout the world. First Sight solves two of the most basic barriers for correcting eyesight: limited access and prohibitive cost. Poor eyesight results in millions of children missing educational opportunities. Adults are unable to work and families are pushed further into poverty. First Sight solutions promote increased educational opportunities and better economic conditions for adults suffering with poor vision.
First Sight succeeds because no specialized training or expensive equipment is needed to accurately measure and correct refractive errors. An average person, with no formal training, can perform an eye exam and fit prescription eyeglasses on a patient in less than 15 minutes. First Sight glasses have also been distributed in 22 countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Mexico. First Sight forms collaborative partnerships with non-governmental agencies, schools, health clinics, faith-based organizations and civic organizations, such as Rotary International.
It was at a Rotary Club of Naples meeting that Nizar and I met. You never know who you will be talking to a lunch table. I was fortunate to hear his story and develop a friendship. Whether on Zoom or at our next Press Club in-person lunch program sometime in the future, be sure to introduce yourself to Nizar and welcome him to the Press Club.