“Seva has given so much help to so many thousands of people for so many years — such a wonderful example of love in action.”
Singer / Songwriter
"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."
Singer / Songwriter
"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."
Actor / Writer
"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."
Singer / Humanitarian Activist
"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!"
The Grateful Dead
"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."
Singer / Songwriter
“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
“I congratulate Seva Foundation for the magnificent work they continue to do."
Legendary Folk Singer
“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.”
Singer / Songwriter
“Such dedication to others — how could you not love Seva and what they accomplish? Well done!”
Singer / Songwriter
Gender and Sustainability
Seva Influences the International Eye Care Agenda
Seva's pioneering Sight Programs have always maintained a focus on the issues of gender inequity and sustainability. Yet these haven't been priority items on the agenda for VISION 2020, the international campaign to eliminate avoidable blindness.
Now, that's starting to change — thanks in part to Seva Sight Program Director, Dr. Suzanne Gilbert.
Suzanne represents Seva in the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and serves on the IAPB Board of Trustees. In September, she attended the IAPB Council of Members meeting in Hanoi, and returned with good news.
"We added two discussion events this year — one dealing with the question of how to build sustainability in community-based eye care programs, and one dealing with the need to ensure our work takes into account the worldwide gender gap in eye care services," Suzanne explained. "That's the first time that's happened.”
Expanding the Vision
Importantly, IAPB members are ready to work on these issues in an ongoing way. "The response among members was really positive," Suzanne continued, "so much so that IAPB is now establishing working groups to focus specifically on gender and sustainability. It represents an important step forward."
Seva is one of 60 non-governmental organizations from around the world that comprise the IAPB. VISION 2020 is a global initiative launched by IAPB together with the World Health Organization. The mission of VISION 2020 is to eliminate the main causes of all preventable and treatable blindness as a public health issue by the year 2020.
The Gender Issue
Suzanne says most people don't realize that women are disproportionately affected by preventable vision loss, accounting for two-thirds of the world's blind. "But once you know that, it just can't be ignored," she declares. "It's especially important because in so many countries women have much less access to eye care services than men do.
If we're going to reach the VISION 2020 goals, then programs need to figure out how to make their work gender-sensitive."
Some of the barriers women face in seeking treatment relate to marital status, limited access to financial resources, family bias toward favoring wage earners, and restricted ability to travel. Seva and its partners have made a point of addressing these issues in our Sight Program activities around the world.
"Having an IAPB group focus on the gender issue will help," says Suzanne. "It's going to start building awareness and sooner or later, you'll see improvements in service delivery."
The Sustainability Issue
"Seva has had a core focus on sustainability since we began," Suzanne says, smiling. "But for a lot of organizations, it's something new. In IAPB, people are realizing that ultimately, the work of VISION 2020 will be futile unless we get a handle on the sustainability issue. That requires a shift from being a "charity" to being a true development organization."
Seva looks for solutions that will be lasting. In practice, that means ensuring that local people have the knowledge and resources to provide quality eye care and the skills to effectively manage the program themselves. Local leaders must set the program's direction, and each organization must grow to become self-sufficient.
"Our partnerships with the Aravind Eye Care System in India and the Lumbini Eye Care Program in Nepal have shown that well-managed eye hospitals can serve large numbers of blind people, keep the unit cost of care low, and insure high quality service that keeps more people coming," explains Suzanne. "It's the proverbial win-win — and the model is now being adapted to many other communities and countries around the world. If we start to see that approach taken up by IAPB in the context of VISION 2020, I think we'll see some really exciting work being done in the next few years."
For more information on IAPB and VISION 2020, visit:
International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness
Two-thirds of the world's blind are women and girls. In developing countries, women and girls are far less likely to have access to eye care services because of the barriers they face. From lack of education and financial resources to limited decision-making power, Seva and our partners help women and girls overcome barriers.
Supporting women to become leaders in the field of eye care, and increasing women's access to eye care, are two of Seva's top priorities. We are proud to feature these five women and their inspirational stories.
In addition to the life-changing impact the surgeons have on each person they serve, this particular Seva-supported surgical team represents another major success 70% of the surgeons at Lumbini are women.
The Fund for Women and Girls supports a variety of innovative programs and partnerships that are improving access to eye care for women and girls around the globe.
Thanks to leadership from Seva's Dr. Suzanne Gilbert, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) has formed new working groups to take up two key issues in the Vision 2020 campaign to prevent blindness — gender and sustainability.
Every five seconds a person goes blind somewhere around the world, and every minute a child goes blind. Even more disturbing is the fact that two out of three people who are blind are women and girls; most of them living in areas of developing countries where they have limited and unequal access to sight restoring services.
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