Sankara Eye Foundation raises $500,000 at Banquet

India Post News Service

MILPITAS, CA: On Saturday December 8, Sankara Eye Foundation (SEF) hosted its signature annual banquet at India Community Center (ICC), Milpitas, California. These banquets are meant to honor its donors and provide them updates on its current as well as upcoming projects.

This year, the goal was to raise $500,000 for eye surgeries and for its three inflight hospital projects – Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Hyderabad in Telangana and New Mumbai in Maharashtra. Courtesy the generosity of its donors, SEF was able to reach, in fact surpass that target.i 6724pv5 X3

The event started with a social/cocktail hour where the attendees got the opportunity to mingle, in the beautifully decorated lobby, with each other as well as with Sankara office-bearers. The food, served by Mantra India, was amazingly delicious- Tandoori Paneer, Almond Tikkis, Amritsari Fish and aromatic hot and sweet chai, along with an assortment of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Shortly after the social hour, all attendees gathered in the auditorium to hear the visiting Sankara management team from India. Dr. R. V. Ramani, the chief guest and the founder of Sankara Eyecare Institute (SECI), walked the attendees through Sankara’s evolution through the decades. He also explained how new hospitals work to achieve self-sufficiency under the 80-20 model- for every paid surgery. Four completely free surgeries are performed for poor and needy eye patients brought into the Sankara Hospitals from economically and socially under-developed areas. Each hospital typically performs 50 surgeries per day. All patients are provided the same top notch care throughout their entire stay at the hospitals.

Dr. Murali Kaushik, a pediatric ophthalmologist and the head of Sankara’s medical operations based at Sankara’s Bangalore hospital, spoke about diabetic retinal disease and childhood blindness. His team is perfecting an Artificial Intelligence (AI) based technique wherein an image of the retina (taken with a smartphone), is passed through a machine learning algorithm, identifies the impacted areas and the need for treatment. Such timely and easily accessible retinal scanning method has the potential to revolutionize the prevention of unnecessary blindness, especially in children.

Some of the donors also spoke about their association with SEF. Ram Reddy urged his fellow donors to participate in the great cause of Sankara.  Dilmohan Chadha spoke eloquently on how the mission and values of SEF align perfectly with the core tenet of his religion, Sikhism – i.e. “sarbat da bhala” (wellbeing of all).

Sankara also honored Umakanth Uppalapati, a long time supporter of SEF who passed away recently at a very young age, by naming a room after him at the upcoming hospital in Hyderabad.

After the presentations, dinner and entertainment followed and the attendees just loved every bit of it. The singers and dancers enthralled the attendees with their mesmerizing performances that ran late into the night.

i 8j8Mkpv X3Even though the fundraising target for the night of the banquet was met, the need for much more still exists. India has the largest population in the world (55 million) of visually impaired people, and of these, 8 millions are totally blind. Most of them are, as Dr. Ramani refers to them, “needlessly blind”, i.e. they could have been treated successfully with a cataract operation costing as little as $30.

Sankara also has a Wall of Founders mechanism wherein a donation of $1000 (or just $500 if the donor’s company matches donations 1:1) allows you to have your loved one’s name added to the Wall of Founders at the hospital. Similarly, a donation of $5000 (incl. company matching) entitles you to have a room named after a near and dear one.