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.
I want to send a happy International Women’s Day today to all the amazing women like Happiness transforming the world with their courage and compassion.
As we celebrate and remember our power to transform the world let us also remember the millions of women around the world who still don’t have basic human rights. When we do, we can answer the call to amplify their voices.
On behalf of the most dedicated and talented teams, thank you for working toward a world that is a safe and inclusive place for women and girls.
The International Association of Blindness (IAPB) created the Vision Excellence Award to commemorate the end of its 21-year global initiative, VISION 2020: A Right to Sight. In recognition of their life-changing, world-transforming work in the field of humanitarian eye care, IAPB has recognized a total of ten Seva team members and partners with the prize.
“On behalf of the whole Seva family, congratulations to these extraordinary sight leaders and practitioners,” says Kate Moynihan, Executive Director of Seva Foundation. “Seva staff and partners consistently set the standard for patient-centered vision care. Today’s award winners share the commitment and quality of work that brings access to sustainable eye care to millions of individuals and their communities worldwide. I can’t wait to see how – together – we will continue to change the world.”
Thank you for supporting Seva and making these incredible accomplishments possible!
Wisely and from the start, founders and staff of the Seva Foundation knew to listen. We do now, as they did then. We listen to the local and international scientific/social/technical experts, we listen to one another, and most importantly – we carefully listen to the communities and individuals we serve. From listening, we can achieve a pathway to equity.
Equity has always been a stated core value for the Seva Foundation and continues to be the guiding light for our decision making.
Through our decades of service, we came to understand that women and girls were far less likely than men to receive treatment, and for severe vision loss, the inequity increases. With your contributions, sight-saving programs were developed, along with more healthy communities. Seva is here, driving change, unlocking local excellence to address the inequity. Regaining sight is transformative and it results in better futures, especially for women and girls.
The antidote to injustice is equity, and the mechanism for change is listening. Thank you for listening throughout the years and for supporting Seva to transform lives across the world.
A New Year brings a new opportunity to recommit to equity. Every day our staff, partners, and board of directors work tirelessly to ensure that one day, every child will wake up in a world where they have access to care for avoidable blindness.
AGILITY – I’ve been thinking about the meaning of this word lately. Thinking quickly, under pressure, and needing to make skillful decisions. Every one of us is agile these days.
I’m proud of the agility I see in my team and our partners here in the US and across the globe. Over the past several months, as the world changed, we leaned into our core values of compassion in action, equity, and respect. By doing so, we were able to support those in need. We saw agility in the form of innovations in telemedicine, new safety protocols, and diagnosing patients remotely.
While we understand the work we do is serious, we don’t take ourselves seriously. This wisdom is the gift from one of our most beloved co-founders, Wavy Gravy. He celebrated his birthday earlier this year under quarantine and via a live stream concert. His opening welcome was videotaped at his home, and the footage used was pulled from earlier shows.
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.
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.