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Weaving Magic through Social Entrepreneurship!

by SEF,USA on

 

                                                                                           

The word magic takes us all back to fond memories of childhood, of magic shows, circuses and the like, but when someone decides to bring magic into the lives of those who are less fortunate, it is a beautiful story to be retold several times. The magicians here are Dr. R.V Ramani, founder and managing director of Sankara Eye Care Institutions in India and his better half Dr. Radha Ramani.  What started as a small clinic in Coimbatore is now a chain of nine community hospitals across India with plans for more such hospitals coming up soon. The driving force behind these hospitals is that they work on a ratio of 80:20 free to paid patients model and their only focus has been providing quality eye care since their inception. The doctors across all these hospitals perform at least 500 free eye surgeries a day and work tirelessly to achieve the aim of Vision 20:20 by the year 2020 and they seem to be well on target having performed the millionth free eye surgery in the month of March 2013. This institution boasts of an enviable surgery success rate of 98.8%. Dr. Ramani was invited by the Government of India to be one of the members of the National Vision 2020 team constituted by the government. Dr. Radha Ramani has been a personality to reckon with in her own right.  Recipient of many prestigious awards from the Rotary and ladies circles, she has worked tirelessly in the rural areas to improve health care among women, children, and also improve sanitation standards in villages. 

Inspired by the Sankaracharyas of Kanchi, the couple established the Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Medical Centre in the year 1977 to provide primary healthcare to the needy population which has mushroomed into many state of the art eye hospitals across India. They haven't restricted themselves to hospitals alone. Medical camps are organized on a regular basis where patients are screened in rural areas and if needed referred to one of the hospitals for treatment. Healthcare is one good that emerged from this initiative, but the institution has given people from remote areas more sources of income and they are no longer solely reliant on agriculture. For such a huge cause an outer arm is always needed to give that extra push and provide the necessary support in its initial years to every hospital before it's established and can be self-sustainable. This support is rendered by its non- profit fundraising arm, Sankara Eye Foundation, USA. The foundation has a huge presence across different states in the United States. The same ethos with which Dr. Ramani built hospitals in India drives volunteers here to further the cause and make sure the hospitals get all the help they need. Organizing walkathons, religious festivities, concerts and many other similar events is their forte.

SEF, USA is organizing a series of Volunteer and Donor Appreciation Dinners throughout the United States in places such as San Jose, Austin, Houston, New Jersey and New York to bring together all visionaries who have worked tirelessly to inspire more people to contribute to the cause. The uniqueness of these events is that the founders themselves will grace the occasion to talk about their journey that helped them give vision to millions back in India.  How can you and I benefit from this? The dinner is an opportunity for thousands to be able to meet the visionaries in person to listen to a story that has been no less than a fairytale.  If one day we are asked not to see things, it's an impossible situation. It takes courage and enthusiasm to carve out some time from our busy life to work towards bringing a change, to do something that will benefit someone sitting thousands of miles away.  One does not have to move mountains to make an impact. It could be a skill that one could help with, the volunteer with teams at various events being organized, or donate some money that will go towards building quality eye care hospitals across India. A couple of hours from your life, a little bit of your hard earned money will help someone see this beautiful world. It's never too late to start.  All the information that you need to get started is available here: www.giftofvision.org.

 

 

 

Tags : social, enterpreunership

Twigs Strengthen the Roots.

by SEF,USA on

 

 

 

                                                         

On a bright Saturday evening, I walked into a room full of familiar and non-familiar faces, a vibe crossed my path, a vibe one would only notice at a family gathering. Small children played around cheerfully; preparations were being made for speakers to take the stage, last minute decorations and introductions flew across the room. The energy and exuberance spoke volumes about how the latter part of the evening would turn out to be. What followed next was a series of conversations about performance, the intensity of impact in the lives of visually challenged people, the effort it took to give the gift of vision to millions, experiences of working with the organization, memories of that one moment that glued people and never let them go.  The event in context is the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner that was held by Sankara Eye Foundation, USA on Saturday, April 25th, 2015, in Sunnyvale, California. This event brought to light the secret of the success achieved by the organization. A stark camaraderie was clearly visible among members of all age groups. While there was some mention of numbers, past year’s records, works that different teams do, but the meet was anything but a formal office event. It wasn’t so much about the non-profit, as much it was about the volunteers. This evening was a culmination of efforts of the volunteer management team to have volunteers fly in from cities across the country, (Seattle, Los Angeles, Detroit, Phoenix, New Jersey, DC, and Houston) to appreciate their dedication and plan for the year ahead.

A speech from our Chairman, Murali Krishnamurthy set the momentum going. An ever smiling face in all situations, his positivity has rubbed onto most volunteers working with Sankara. The seriousness of the event gave way to a narration of anecdotes, reasons what made volunteers fly all the way from the east coast, and how they stay motivated. An interesting story that motivated one of the members enough to continue helping in the noble cause became the highlight.  He received a certificate with a picture of the patient,  thanking him for the contribution.  There can be no better appreciation and no better motivation. The evening was full of such stories and instances, and hearing them was a surreal experience. It is no surprise that this noble cause pioneered by some excellent people, at the helm of affairs, is largely a volunteer-run show. Forming the backbone of the organization, they are known to pull off large scale events on their own. Various chapters across the country are small, and handled by passionate people who are doing well in their professional lives but here at Sankara, the only thing that drives them is their passion, and zeal to make a difference. The mark of success lies in the fact that there were generations of a family present at the meet, each one equally enthusiastic as the other. The jewel in the crown was one of the members narrating that one of our oldest members (88) belonged to his family and her love for the cause made him commit to the organization.

The uniqueness of this program is unparallel. No demands,  a donation as little as 30 dollars,   helping with organizing events, assisting in volunteer management, are some of the many tasks wherein you can contribute. The decision of how much money/how many hours you want to give to this noble cause rests solely with you. The foundation has been instrumental in opening 1.3 million eyes, and this gathering was proof of what perseverance, belief, and strength can do. The end of the night saw some fun games where we saw just as much enthusiasm as seen while at work. We have always known roots to provide strength to trees; Sankara Eye Foundation is an organization where its many twigs are its strength. No team gives as much freedom to its volunteers. Mahatma Gandhi once said, "The best way to find yourself is loose yourself in the service of others," and ever since the inception, hundreds of us have found ourselves while bringing light to someone’s life. Join the movement and see how your life takes a turn for the better.        

 

    

 

Tags : twigs, roots