Sankara Eye Foundation, USA, will host the Sonu Nigam fundraising concert, “Klose to My Soul”, in Los Angeles at the Nokia Theater, on May 31. K Sridharan, co-founder and president of Sankara Eye Foundation, USA: Q: What has Sankara accomplished so far? Has the foundation been able to make an impact?
Q: What are the future plans for SEF?
A: Since its founding, SEF has developed and proven the models for self-sufficiency and expansion that provide a foundation for the massive growth needed in the upcoming decade. SEF will be inaugurating the Kanpur hospital in September 2014. SEF has purchased land in Jodhpur, Rajasthan for our next hospital and recently signed the papers for the land in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. After this, SEF has its next project planned in Chhattisgarh. In the longer term, SEF remains committed to fulfilling its mission statement of “Vision 20/20 by 2020” by installing 20 hospitals across India by the year 2020.
Sankara Eye Foundation, USA, will host the Sonu Nigam fundraising concert, “Klose to My Soul”, in Los Angeles at the Nokia Theater, on May 31. K Sridharan, co-founder and president of Sankara Eye Foundation, USA.
Q: What is Sankara Eye Foundation, and what does it do?
A: Blindness is undoubtedly one of the most critical and urgent problems in India, with 25% of the global blind population residing in the country. However, the reality is that 80% of the blindness in India is curable, and it primarily affects the poor who are unaware that their blindness can be cured. Sankara Eye Foundation is a Bay-Area based 501(c)3 organization which recognized this need, and has dedicated itself to eradicating curable blindness in India. What Sankara does is provide the ‘poor’ with the gift of vision – right at their doorstep – through a unique outreach program which transforms their lives with state-of-the-art eye care. All of Sankara’s services to the poor are provided totally free, yet without compromise on quality, leading to a success rate of over 98.8%. Every week, our hospital personnel conduct tests in rural areas within a 200 kilometer radius from the hospital to identify patients needing surgery, bring those patients to the base for treatment where they are provided free room and board, and take them back to their villages after two days. After initial operations, the hospital staff does periodic follow-up visits to ensure the treatment has been effective.
Q: How did you get involved in this organization?
A: My initial intrigue to learn about Sankara was sparked by the constant encouragement of my late uncle, who at the time was a volunteer. It was only through a truly memorable visit to the Coimbatore hospital in 1997, however, that this intrigue became inspiration. Not only was the hospital was clean, modern, and very well equipped, but the paramedical staff were taking care of the poor patients like their own family. This awe-inspiring experience convinced me to return to the US and motivate my brother, Murali Krishnamurthy, to raise support for this cause. Once we decided to devote our efforts to Sankara, we also recruited my neighbor, Ahmad Khushnood, and the three of us founded the SEF organization. Little did we realize that it would grow into something way beyond our dreams, and it is all due to the enormous support of our volunteers, donors and supporters.
Q: How can our readers help the mission of SEF?
A: Most immediately, we must raise the necessary funds to start the construction of the hospitals in Jodhpur, Rajasthan and Indore, Madhya Pradesh, which are projected to cost around $4.2 Million each. Based on past experience, we will be able to start construction after 70 percent of the funds are raised, which means that we have to raise $2.8 Million each for the two hospitals before we can start construction. That is where we need the most help, but support for our existing hospitals (most of which experience a severe excess of demand) is always needed as well. Currently, our hospital in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh is in dire need of expansion and upgrade- and we are raising funds for that. India Journal readers can support the cause in many ways, starting with our Sonu Nigam concert in Los Angeles on May 31. You can also become a founding donor at any of our hospitals, spread the message of Sankara to your friends and family, and last but not least, come join the Sankara family and help spread the magic of light! You can find all the details at http://www.giftofvision.org.