Sadly, vision impairment continues to rob millions of people every year of a promising future. At Seva we know that this is a solvable public health crisis. 90% of all vision loss is preventable and treatable. Our research validates that investing in eye health improves overall wellbeing, community participation, and economic outlook for families.
We take the work seriously, we don’t take ourselves too seriously! Seva Co-Founders Wavy Gravy & Jahanara Romney – a dynamic duo, hippie icons, and pair of saints – taught us that. They’ve dedicated their lives to public service, activism, and spreading unconditional joy.
“Those who experienced the founders’ period know how close to the heart of Seva the delicate dance between spirit and form is, between inner and outer. Seva was at its strongest when these dualities worked together with respect and in dynamic balance. It was also true that Seva took the longest strides and generated the most satisfying fellowship when actions were firmly rooted in the conscious effort to be of service to others.
Service and spirit are the heart of the Seva vision. These notions did not originate with Seva, nor has Seva any copyright on either of them, but in explorations that took place over many years, through many meetings and in diverse projects around the world, by heated argument and in loving story, a distinctive rendering of the vision of service and spirit took form at the very heart of this organization. Honoring in notion and in practice the core of its founding vision – even as it may adopt conventional forms of management – is how Seva can continue to be an inspiring source of this needed wisdom and a vehicle to carry it into the future.
Then the unique and potent spirit that has animated Seva from its founding will continue to be vital and will find new ways to be expressed within this evolving organization.”
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 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.
We know eye health affects nearly everyone at some point in our lives. Worldwide, there are currently 1.1 billion people living with vision impairment, and hundreds of millions more have ongoing eye care needs.
Improved eye health is essential to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG for short). That means eye health is critical to achieving goals related to poverty, hunger, education, gender equality, and decent work, in addition to overall health and wellbeing. A Lancet Commission Report released earlier this year noted that the economic impact of vision impairment is massive, with a current estimated productivity loss of $411 billion per year globally.
Join us in honoring the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
Today – and every day – we recognize Indigenous identity, their lived reality, and their rich historical narratives.
Seva is honored to have worked with Indigenous communities worldwide since the very beginning, focusing on various community and wellness initiatives. We express gratitude for our relationships with Indigenous Peoples of every nation – together, we are celebrating Indigenous legacy.
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.
“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.