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Seva Foundation

“Seva has given so much help to so many thousands of people for so many years — such a wonderful example of love in action.”

Bonnie Raitt
Singer / Songwriter

Seva Foundation

"For nearly 40 years Seva has made an extraordinary contribution to the world — not only through their international programs, but here in some of the most impoverished communities in North America, on Native American reservations. Thank you Seva."

Jackson Browne
Singer / Songwriter

Seva Foundation

"Seva takes the impulse towards generosity and turns it into compassionate action that helps people in real need. I honor my friends and relations by giving to Seva in their name — the entire world benefits. I hope you'll join me."

Peter Coyote
Actor / Writer

Seva Foundation

"Compassion and caring for people in need - that's simply a moral necessity. But it's not always easy to do. Seva makes it easy. They know how to put your donations to work in ways that truly benefit people."

Joan Baez
Singer / Humanitarian Activist

Seva Foundation

"When we met the folks at Seva, we knew we were among kindred spirits, joining to bring people together in service to others. Whether preventing blindness in Nepal, assisting native peoples in Guatemala and Mexico, or helping our own Native Americans, Seva has been there to help alleviate suffering and improve people's lives. Long may they rock!"

Phil Lesh
The Grateful Dead

Seva Foundation

"Seva's efforts create hope and happiness worldwide for so many people in difficult conditions. I've always been amazed and cheered by their good works and I've been very happy to help them in their fundraising efforts."

Bruce Hornsby
Singer / Songwriter

Seva Foundation

“I admire Seva's spirit of innovation. Seva is constantly looking for new ideas that can benefit the world, especially the poor, and they aren't afraid to try something that no one has ever tried before."

Dr. Muhammad Yunus
Nobel Prize Winner / Seva Partner / Founding Chairman of Grameen Health Services

Seva Foundation

“I congratulate Seva Foundation for the magnificent work they continue to do."

Odetta
Legendary Folk Singer

Seva Foundation

“Seva has done an incredible job all over the world helping people who really need it. I am proud to be one of the many who followed Wavy and his friends down this particular yellow brick road.”

David Crosby
Singer / Songwriter

Seva Foundation

“Such dedication to others — how could you not love Seva and what they accomplish? Well done!”

Graham Nash
Singer / Songwriter

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Ama's Story
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Two out of three people who are blind are women and girls. Your compassion restored Ama's eyesight, and is helping to increase access to eye care for women around the globe.

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A Seva Story
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This micro-documentary explains the origins of Seva and our work to prevent and cure blindness around the world.

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Let There Be Sight
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Witness a Seva Eye Camp in the Himalayas of Nepal. In Let There Be Sight, Seva donor Turk Pipkin chronicles his journey with a Seva medical team to a remote surgical eye camp in Nepal's Himalayas where hundreds of people had their vision restored. Special thanks to musician and long-time Seva supporter Jackson Browne for use of his song "Doctor My Eyes."

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What Does Seva Mean...
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We asked Dr. Chundak Tenzing, Seva's Sight Program Director: "What does 'Seva' Mean to you?

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Sight in Cambodia
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Many Cambodia children do not have access to eye care services. Seva trains Cambodian doctors and provides infrastructure so that Cambodia can provide care to it's own citizens. Last year, over 70,000 children in Cambodia received eye examinations as a result of Seva's work. 1/2 of children who go blind in developing countries will die within the first year. By preventing and treating blindness, Seva provides opportunities for life to children around the world.

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For a Chance to See
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Dhana lives in one of the most isolated, impoverished villages on the planet, Bajura, Nepal, a stunning but unforgiving landscape he has not seen for five years. Dhana Kadka is blind due to cataracts. Despite this, he walked 10km through the rocky terrain of far west Nepal by feel and memory. Kadka learned that a group of Seva-supported eye doctors were coming for a special visit. So he made the perilous journey on foot for the chance to see.

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Building a Bridge to Eye Care
Seva helps KCCO connect people to care in Africa

"After you've been in Africa for a while, and you see how people live," Dr. Susan Lewallen says, "then it becomes obvious that just building a hospital isn't enough.  You have to figure out how to get patients to come in for services, or how to bring the services out to the community.  You have to connect people to the care."

That's exactly what Susan and her husband, Dr. Paul Courtright, are doing now at the Kilimanjaro Center for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO) in Tanzania with support from Seva Foundation.


Susan and Paul launched KCCO in 2001 with financial support from Seva, and already it's making a huge difference.  Located in Moshi, a small city near Mt. Kilimanjaro in northeastern Tanzania, KCCO programs are improving eye care services for people in the surrounding rural areas, home of the Masai and other Indigenous tribes.  Here's just one measure of success:  over its first six years, KCCO helped increase the number of cataract surgeries in the area by about 300%.


Yet KCCO isn't a hospital and it doesn't provide any clinical services.  Its work is focused on research, program development and training, all intended to help eye care service providers and public health workers reach a huge population that has never had eye care before.

First of Its Kind in Africa
KCCO is the first organization to systematically develop an approach to community ophthalmology in Africa, an innovative model of service delivery developed by Seva and its long-time partner in India, the Aravind Eye Care System.


“If you're imagining a situation like in the U.S. or any developed country," Susan explains, "then you're assuming that people realize they should see a doctor if they have a problem with their vision, that people know how to find a doctor, and that they can afford to get to the doctor let alone pay the bill. But it doesn’t work that way in poor, developing countries."

"Community ophthalmology looks at how to match up patients with the services," she continues. "We do research on operational questions like, 'Do people value cataract surgery enough to pay for it, and if so, how much?' That’s really relevant if you want to create financially sustainable systems. We also train hospitals and clinics in personnel management, and we're training people to set up community programs that we hope will serve the population and last over time."

Building a Bridge
"The way to get patients to come in to the hospital," says Joseph Banzi, Community Coordinator at KCCO, "is to get out of the hospital and go see the people. Our Direct Referral Site program sends teams to do eye exams in all the nearby rural areas. We treat people with minor eye conditions right there, and provide them with glasses. If a patient needs cataract surgery, we refer them directly to the hospital, and we provide transportation there and back — because they would never make it otherwise. We're building a bridge that connects people to eye care services."

With KCCO, the focus is always on building the capacity of local health providers, explains Joseph. "We provide training and technical assistance to a lot of partners, such as the Ministry of Health, staff from nongovernmental organizations, public health clinics in the communities, and the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College, which has the largest hospital in the area and is our primary partner in Tanzania. That's our focus because it's going to take all of us working together to really make a difference in eye care."
 
Based on Susan and Paul’s groundbreaking research showing a significantly higher prevalence of cataract blindness among women in developing countries compared to men, KCCO is developing programs to boost the number of women who get surgery. Their community health programs also address nutrition and sanitation problems that play a role in eye conditions like trachoma.

Sustainability is the Goal
"In the past, most eye care services in Africa have been donor provided," says KCCO's Sustainability Planner, Edson Eliah. "But if donors withdraw, everything stops. So our work looks at how to make the program sustainable, how to make the programs work if the donors aren't there. In fact, our goal is to make affordable eye cares services that are there for the long run — even if KCCO is not there."

Edson is putting his background in economics to good use. "Part of my job is to help our partners figure out how to reduce their costs. If we can lower the costs of materials, and if we increase efficiency of labor, then eye care becomes more affordable. But we are also putting fee structures in place that can help generate revenue to keep it all going. If we can charge a small fee for things like eye glasses and eye drops, and if people pay for part of their surgery, then we're creating the basis of sustainability. Looking at the example of Aravind Hospital in India, we know it can be done. We just have to find the best ways to apply that model here in Africa."

KCCO has a vision for bringing top quality, high-volume eye care services to all of eastern Africa, home to 300 million people. Already, they are training staff and building networks to make it happen — and Seva is delighted to be a part of it.

 

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