Springtime brings a sense of renewal, and after a year of uncertainty with COVID-19 looming over everyone’s fate, many parts of the world can breathe a collective sigh of relief. Here in the US, with the rollout of various vaccines, I am reminded that in many parts of the rest of the world, people are still struggling with COVID, access to care, and even more significant health challenges due to the various mutations. Scientists have moved mountains; yet we must ensure that the work to save lives continues. For Seva, the work continues with safety first, as we provide life-saving and essential eye care needs to some of the world’s most marginalized communities.
From March 26-28, musicians, singers, and supporters gathered together online for our annual “Sing Out for Seva” concert. For three wonderful days, artists helped raise funds for Seva’s programs and threw a bright, beautiful celebration of all we’ve managed to accomplish this year. On popular demand, the concert streaming was extended till April 11th. This was the third virtual concert benefiting Seva that has taken place since the beginning of the COVID pandemic.
On February 27, Indian-American singing group Soor Aur Saptak (SAS) threw their 10th annual benefit concert for Seva! The event, which took place virtually this year, showcases the stunning beauty of Indian music, singing, and dancing. More than a thousand people watched the show. Viewers attended this program from the USA, India, Australia, Canada, Philippines, UAE, Czech Republic, and other places in Europe.
“If we think of Covid-19 as a wildfire – and it surely spreads like one – we have failed to extinguish it. We still have fires burning all over the country,” says Dr. Brilliant, a world-renowned epidemiologist.
Dr. Brilliant together with W. Ian Lipkin, Lisa Danzig, and Karen Pak Oppenheimer published an article in the Wall Street Journal today. They discuss what’s to come next for the pandemic with new variants, vaccines, and planning for future public health challenges. The message is clear: We can still beat COVID-19 using many of the strategies leveraged in the past to deal with Smallpox, Ebola, Swine, and other viruses, but we must act fast and in concerted efforts.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be one of the most pressing global health challenges of our time. Seva is thankful for all the brave frontline and essential workers who have tirelessly risked their lives in support of others. We are also thankful for you and your continued support in ensuring that our partners receive the vital resources they need in the face of this crisis.
Today, as you and your family reflect on the changes our world is going through, know that your compassion has reached into one of the most forgotten places on Earth.
Over the last decade, nearly one million Rohingya people have fled their homeland of Myanmar to escape what the UN refers to as the military’s ethnic cleansing. In late 2017, one of the worst human rights violations of the decade sent hundreds of thousands of women and girls, boys, and men into neighboring Bangladesh. Crammed into makeshift shelters in Cox’s Bazar district, the Rohingya refugees are one of the most densely packed populations on earth living in what is now the largest refugee camp in the world.
Upon reaching Bangladesh, the sheer number of Rohingya overwhelmed the local resources, resulting in a lack of access to clean water, sanitation, nutrition, shelter, and health care, including eye care. For the Rohingya, a lifetime without proper access to eyecare means a high rate of preventable blindness and vision loss. According to our study, ten thousand refugees living in the area need cataract surgery today. Every year three thousand more will. On top of this, seventy-five thousand refugees need glasses.
Seva is committed to providing access to eye care in this region.
There are millions of people in the world in need of eye care services and not enough trained eye care professionals to provide care. Your generous support enables us to provide critical training for ophthalmic support staff. These individuals are professionally trained vision care workers who assist ophthalmologists and optometrists with routine clinical or non-clinical activities. With their assistance, ophthalmologists can focus on more advanced and complex cases. Together, they can provide care to more people, more efficiently.
But who trains the trainers? How do we make sure the teachers are giving their students the best information across the board? Eyexcel is how.
Even in the middle of a global pandemic, millions of people around the world need access to basic eye care services. At Seva, we are grateful for your support and the hard work, dedication, and determination of our wonderful global partners who go the extra mile to ensure that underserved communities have the support they need – especially today, during this challenging time.
On June 21, 2020, our partner in Bangladesh – Ispahani Islamia Eye Institute and Hospital (IIEIH) ‘e-inaugurated’ a new eye clinic in Lalmohan supported by Seva. Lalmohan, located in the southern district of Barisal, had very few vision care resources to serve its almost 300,000 residents. As most of the population there earns a low income, the closest eye hospital, which is located 63 miles (102 Kms) away, becomes very difficult and costly to visit.
An eye hospital transforms lives by restoring sight every day. But managing one is a challenging, sometimes overwhelming task. Now, imagine trying to do it in an isolated, rural part of the developing world! Where would you find administrative staff? How would you train them to use databases or manage payroll? How would you attract patients who can afford to pay for their care so that you can remain financially above-water? These are some of the critical questions that Seva’s partners have to answer as they work to provide safe long-term eye care to their communities sustainably.
Luckily, thanks to the support of donors like you, Seva and UC Berkeley have been able to help!
On a recent Friday morning, Seva hosted a Cyber Synergy Series session with world-class experts – Dr. Larry Brilliant, Dr. Samina Zamindar, and Dr. Lucia Silva, to explain in layman’s language what we can expect to see in the coming weeks and months with COVID-19, and how best we can cope with it.