Reportage photographer Brent Stirton has been recognized in Third Place by UNICEF for his work “INDIA: COMING OUT OF THE DARK”

They can see! Five-year-old Anita Singh and her twelve-year-old sister Sonia discover the wonder of light. They were blind, born with an eye defect in a poor farming village in one of India’s poorest regions. They have wandered the darkness as do around 20 million people worldwide, twelve million of them in India alone.

And they would have continued to do so if they hadn’t had an operation at the Vivekananda Mission Hospital: an operation that was made possible entirely by donations. It is no big deal to correct this form of congenital cataract blindness in a 15-minute operation. However, the costs for such an operation amount to 300 US dollars – three times the annual income of a peasant family in India. That’s why countless children suffer the same fate: staying blind as long as no one helps them. Sonia and Anita, on the other hand, have just been incredibly lucky.

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See more images from Brent Stirton on Reportage by Getty Images