Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India

by Aravind Eye Foundation
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Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India

Perhaps 2021 should have come with a warning:  "Turbulence expected.  Please fasten your seatbelt."  It has been a year of ups and downs, with both triumphs and tragedies for many, and Aravind was no exception.  

But with your help, we did it! We adapted to meet the needs of our times and, most importantly, of our patients.

One of those patients was Sara.  She and her family come from Tenkasi, a village of about 70,000 in Tamil Nadu, known for the Coutallan Waterfalls and the beautiful Kari Viswanathar Temple.  She was three months old when she was diagnosed with cancer in her right eye. 

This is devastating news for any parent, but especially if you can't afford treatment.  Sara's parents are farmers with three other children at home.  Fortunately,  Aravind has generous friends like you, who paid for Sara's chemotherapy, and now she is completely recovered. 

This year, Aravind treated 40 new patients with eye cancer and provided 1291 free patient visits, as part of our Ring of Hope program.  We have started using a new intra-arterial chemo threatment that's been available in the west for 10-15 years, and produces better results with fewer side effects.  

Since the founding of the Ring of Hope program, you've helped us provide nearly 12,000 patient visits and sightsaving care for 800 plus patients, completely free of cost. 

Thank you wholeheartedly from all of us at Aravind for your generosity1.  We wish you a happy holiday season and pray for the continued health and safety of you and your loved ones. 

With gratitude,

Donna Campbell, Executive Director, Aravind Eye Foundation

"Much as been done, but much remains to be done. We look to the future with renewed strength to continue the mission of providing quality eye care."  From the journals of Dr. G. Venkataswamy, founder of Aravind
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Baby Athlin from Kerala, eye cancer patient
Baby Athlin from Kerala, eye cancer patient

Dear friends,

My last report was written to you in the midst of the India's frightening and demoralizing second wave of the pandemic. Five times as many cases as the first wave and shortages of beds, oxygen, medicines, and nursing staff across the country.   

Aravind met this challenge head-on, increasing protective measures for staff and patients alike.  We started a program to deal with Covid survivors who develop fungal disease after recovery.  (You might have read about this disease, Mucormycosis, in the New York Times. Aravind's own Dr. Usha, head of our Orbital cancer program and founder of the Ring of Hope, noticed the increase early on.)  To help our staff -- 85% women -- deal with the increased stress of working in this "new normal", we have created an initiative to provide counseling and training.

And, we never stopped caring for our patients, despite the obstacles.  One of those patients was a two-year-old girl named Athlin from the adjacent state of Kerala.  Her father is a fisherman.  Her family visited Aravind where she was diagnosed with eye cancer, but returned home because of lockdown.  As cases kept rising, the family worried about delaying her treatment -- rightly so, because early treatment was key to saving her sight and life.  Aravind received special permission for the family to travel to Madurai for surgery, chemotherapy and genetic screening -- all free of cost, thanks to you.  

I am more optimistic today than when I wrote to you in May.  The numbers of reported Covid cases in India are lower than those in early summer, and roughly a third of the population has had at least one dose of vaccine, as you know. There is still a long road ahead and many uncertainties.  But, knowing you are with us in this fight inspires and comforts all at Aravind. In the words of our founder, Dr. V, "Much has been done, but much remains to be done.  We look to the future with renewed strength to continue the mission of providing quality eye care."  

Thank you for your support.  As always, we would love to hear from you.  Please feel free to call me at 917 412 4742 or email me at donnacampbell@aravind.org.  Or visit facebook.com/AravindEyeFoundation and or tweet @aravindeye. I will get right back to you!  

With gratitude, Donna 

Donna Campbell, Executive Director, Aravind Eye Foundation

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Dear Friend,

When I started to write to you and update you on Aravind’s work with eye cancer patients, I realized I had no idea how to begin. Normally, I follow the guidelines, send a story about one of our Ring of Hope eye cancer patients, how many people we’ve helped, and how we are fulfilling our mission. I threw out several drafts like that because it’s not the time for business as usual. Although, I don’t think it is never business as usual at Aravind. But warning: this report is written from the heart.

As you know, the situation in India with the pandemic is dire – more than 300,000 cases a day of Covid-19 a day. Many people have lost someone, and we pray for them and for solace for their families.

When I first started working with Aravind, now nearly 10 years ago, I quickly understood that this is an organization that cares deeply about both the health and dignity of its patients. Not only the doctors and nurses, but everyone who comes into contact with a patient. Housekeeping, administration, security – they are a critical part of Aravind’s work, and their kindness and attention to detail are part of the healing process.

True story about a young aide, who was reprimanded for not wearing shoes: “Where are your shoes?”, her supervisor asked. The aide replied, “I gave them to a patient.”

This young woman had understood our founder's vision and what it means to give the gift of service and go the extra mile for her patient.  For me, it sums up Aravind -- nothing will keep us from caring for our patients.  

Everyone at Aravind is doing their very best to prevent unnecessary blindness and to take on the additional responsibility of unnecessary exposure to Covid. Eye cancer doesn’t go into lockdown, so we continue to see these patients to make sure they get essential care. Just last month, through our Ring of Hope program, Aravind provided 66 free patient visits, free accommodation for eight patients, and custom prostheses for two patients, surgery for four patients, and genetic testing for five patients.

Thank you for your help during this unusually difficult time. I hope you and your family and friends are well and safe. Please encourage everyone you know to get their vaccination. And, feel free to contact me at donnacampbell@aravind.org if you would like to know more about our work and how you can help. We would love to hear from you.

In gratitude,

Donna Campbell, Executive Director, Aravind Eye Foundation

“Intelligence and Capability are not enough. There must be the joy of doing something beautiful.”

From the journals of Dr. G. Venkataswamy, founder of Aravind Eye Care System

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Nancy and her parents at Aravind Eye Hospital.
Nancy and her parents at Aravind Eye Hospital.

I hope this finds you well and looking forward to 2021 with hope in your heart.  2020 was an unusual year for Aravind, but as I look back, I can’t help but be amazed at all that was accomplished, under such difficult circumstances with YOUR help!

Our Ring of Hope program is a prime example. Although we had to postpone many procedures during the pandemic, the number of eye cancer patients we treated actually increased during 2020. This year we treated 82 new patients and provided 1679 follow-up visits. In several instances, patients and their families stayed at Aravind – free of cost – since they couldn’t risk travelling back and forth.

One of those patients was one-year-old Nancy, who travelled to Madurai from Andhra Pradesh (a 14-hour trip), for surgery in March. Right after that, India went into lockdown, stranding Nancy and her family in an unfamiliar city for almost two months. In addition to covering the full cost of her treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy, and genetic testing, Aravind provided the family with food and housing until they safely returned home.

Nancy's story is one of many during the pandemic. It is never business as usual at Aravind, but that has been particularly true in 2020. The one thing that has never changed is our commitment to providing high-quality, compassionate care to every patient, regardless of ability to pay.

From all of us at Aravind, thank you wholeheartedly for supporting our work. You have given the gift of sight to so many patients like Nancy and put hope in the hearts of their families. We wish you a happy new year and pray for the continued health and safety of you and your loved ones.  

 In gratitude, Donna

“Intelligence and Capability are not enough. There must be the joy of doing something beautiful.”                         From the journals of Dr. G. Venkataswamy, founder of Aravind Eye Care System

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Chinnu and her baby girl
Chinnu and her baby girl

As we head into September, I hope that you and your family are well. I’m sure this was not the summer that you had planned – I know it was vastly different from what my family was looking forward to, and sometimes it is hard to let go of those plans.

One thing that has kept up my spirits this summer is the privilege of working with Aravind. As you know, India has been hard hit by Covid-19. Our staff has been working overtime to provide the high-quality, compassionate eye care that our patients expect, despite extremely challenging circumstances. Their courage and dedication inspire me every day!

And, you inspire me! In these uncertain times, you have continued to provide much-needed support to Aravind, especially to our eye cancer patients. This year Aravind expanded our Ring of Hope program to cover testing and treatment for all types of ocular cancers, so your donations are more important than ever.

I’d like to share some inspiring news about one of our patients. Chinnu lost her eye to retinoblastoma as a child, yet went on to complete dentistry school and to marry. Many eye cancers have a genetic element, and early detection can mean the difference between life and death. Also, knowing that you don’t have the inherited type of cancer can help with family planning and bring peace of mind.

So, before having children, Chinnu, wanted to be tested to understand the risks to future children. She fortunately tested negative and now she has a lovely baby girl!

Thank you for your kindness and your generosity. I hope that you and your family stay safe and that we all find inspiring moments and people to get us through these days. 

With gratitude, Donna

“Intelligence and capability are not enough. There must be the joy of doing something beautiful.”

Dr. G. Venkataswamy, founder of Aravind Eye Care System

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Organization Information

Aravind Eye Foundation

Location: New York - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AravindEyeFdtn
Project Leader:
Chitra Prasad
Project contact
Madurai, Tamil Nadu India
$86,074 raised of $250,000 goal
 
1,174 donations
$163,926 to go
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