They help us take our first steps, teach us to keep our heads high, and support us in every which way.
And through the years, you’ve helped moms around the world regain their sight, and with it, regain their lives. But don’t just take our word for it – meet a few of the inspiring women who are living happier lives because of you!
See the oddly shaped white device that the doctor is looking through (behind the big retinal camera) in the picture above? It may not look very significant but it is doing marvelous things for the people of Burundi!
It’s called a slit-lamp, a critical piece of equipment used in eye exams that includes a built-in camera – a type of microscope. The slit-lamp helps ophthalmologists find abnormalities in the eye while capturing digital images to track changes in the eye over time.
Our partner in Burundi, CTSOE (Centre Tertiaire de Santé Oculaire de L’Enfant), received one of these essential devices – and has reported back the following observations:
Today – April 6th – is a special birthday: Ram Dass’. He embodied a life of selfless service, compassion, and generosity, setting a precedent for Seva and millions of others around the world: Lead life, first and foremost, through love.
In the 1950s, Ram Dass, then still known as Dr. Richard Alpert, was a prominent Harvard psychologist and author researching human consciousness. His cosmic spiritual shift began in 1967, while on a trip to India. There, he met his guru Neem Karoli Baba, who gave him the name Ram Dass – meaning “servant of God” in Hindi.
Upon receiving guidance from his guru, Ram Dass co-founded Seva in 1978 with a singular goal to reduce human suffering. “When I got involved with Seva, it was like putting on an outfit that multiplied my capacity to be involved with the relief of suffering a thousandfold, because this group has such extraordinary diversity of skills, and talents, and preoccupations if you will,” he shared.
With Ram Dass’ vision, support, and guidance over the last four decades, 46+ million people have received Seva-supported eye care services. Although he is no longer with us, his legacy, spirit, and unconditional love lives on in each and every one of these individuals, and the millions more who will go on to receive the gift of sight.
Seva shares special history with Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Muhammad Yunus, as a supporter, ambassador, and our first partner in Bangladesh. Since 2006, we’ve worked together to establish hospitals, perfect our training programs, and establish sustainable systems of eye care throughout the country that reach millions.
Half the Sky – a book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn published in 2009 – argues that the oppression of women worldwide is “the paramount moral challenge” of the present era. Women and girls face gender bias daily, particularly in rural communities.
The story behind this photo radiates with your love. ❤️
On a trip to Nepal, voluntary ophthalmologist and Honorary Lifetime Board member, Dick Litwin found himself in front of hundreds of patients who had received life-changing eye surgery just hours earlier. No longer scared, these smiling faces would soon see the world anew.
Looking from afar, Dr. Litwin couldn’t help but notice the bandages across patients’ eyes looked a bit heart-shaped. The tape reminded him of the arrow that runs down. And that’s when it hit him. Just as we’ve always sent paper heart Valentines to our loved ones for centuries, this was you – our Seva community – sending Valentines to the people of Nepal. Your gift of sight was a Valentine more powerful than any words, and sweeter than any candy.
Whitney Houston sang it loud & clear: “Children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way!”
Sometimes, the leaders of tomorrow need support to succeed. For kids who struggle to see, life can be a challenge. They miss school, are ostracized by peers when their eyes appear different, & often face issues with self-esteem.
Our school screening programs are designed to address this.We bring eye care to students, teachers, and parents exactly where they are – in the classroom!
The beginning of any year allows us to reflect on the previous year and be reinspired by the hopes we have for the year ahead. It’s also time for us to aim for a brighter tomorrow, setting new goals for the future. Here at Seva, the team and our partners engage in a highly inclusive and reflective process. With a set of carefully selected questions we uncover the most successful patterns from the work of the past that allow us to plan for a great year.
We do this in two distinct parts. First we review, learn from, and celebrate the year we are leaving behind. In the second part, our questions and challenges are all about the future. Together with our clients, partners, staff, and board members we are dreaming, planning, and preparing to help the most number of people gain access to comprehensive eye care.
Since the pandemic began I’ve looked to each of you as proof of how strong the Seva fabric can be. Together our resilience, ingenuity, and creativity shone through for the people who need us the most. In fact, millions of people – 2.8 to be more precise – relied on the Seva Foundation’s network of world-class partners to provide services through the pandemic. You helped to navigate this new world, deliver critical eye care, and spread good where it does the most.
Another thing happened: Former NY Times journalist Nicholas Kristof named Seva the Grand Prize winner of the 2021 Holiday Impact Prize. This was a big deal for our organization, the partners we work alongside and the difference this mission makes in the world. It is affirmation from one of the most renowned and celebrated journalists of our time, that Seva is seen for who we are: an organization that believes how we work in this world is as important as what we do, and the sustainable impact we have. For me personally, this award solidifies the thread that connects us from the origins of Seva in the 70’s to the staff and board of today – we are forever bound by a commitment to world class science paired with human compassion.
As we embark on the next normal, know that we – here at the Seva Foundation – are renewed and ready for the year ahead. I invite you to let the mission and work of Seva be one of the guiding points on your own compass that you follow this coming year.
Renowned philanthropist Peter Singer has won the Berggruen Prize, and he’s giving away $100,000 from the prize money to three of The Life You Can Save’s recommended charities based on a public vote – Seva won $30,000!
Each dollar goes directly to provide critical eye care, medicine, and treatment to underserved communities. That means thousands can go back to school, work or serve their communities! It’s never been so simple to transform lives!
You know how the holidays are filled with joyous music, spreading cheer far and wide? Well, we have a treat for you today! Our youth outreach team in Nepal created a jingle about the importance of eye care. It may not be a familial holiday tune, but it has the same spirit and energy this time of year brings to all of us.
Listen to the full clip and follow along with the translations below: