A note from Seva's Executive Director about COVID-19

Spirit of Service

Letter from the Executive Director

In any crisis, leaders must balance two equally important responsibilities: solve the immediate problem and keep it from happening again. The COVID-19 pandemic is a case in point. The world medical community needs to save lives now while also improving the way we respond to outbreaks in general. The first keeps most of us up at night, and the latter has crucial long-term consequences.

The long-term challenge – improving the word's systemic ability to respond to outbreaks – isn't new. Seva Founder Dr. Larry Brilliant's own TedTalk in 2006 warned the global community that another pandemic whose speed and severity rivaled those of the 1918 influenza epidemic was a matter not of if but of when. While we don't know the future, we know COVID-19 is reshaping the world and our lives every single day.

Seva's role in the eye-care ecosystem over the past 40 years has been to build the community trust and the world-class systems that may help in this emerging world scenario – especially for those most overlooked. What might this mean for our work moving forward?

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How Our Partners Are Responding To COVID-19

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Seva Foundation works with hospitals, professionals, paraprofessionals, and vision care organizations in more than 20 countries worldwide. Each and every one of these has been affected in one way or another by the global coronavirus pandemic. We are proud to say that our partners have been proactive in implementing measures to limit the spread of the virus. Here are a few examples of our partners working to keep their patients, staff, and broader communities healthy.

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"The Thrill Is Gone: A Tribute to B.B. King" Concert Benefits Seva

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On February 16th, Seva and our community of supporters joined together at the iconic Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York, for "The Thrill Is Gone: A Tribute to B.B. King." The all-star tribute concert, featuring Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Ivan Neville, Warren Hayne, and many more, paid homage to the undisputed "King of Blues" – B.B. King – and the impact he made in all of our lives through his artistry, musicianship, and values.

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Soor Aur Saptak: A Musical Journey Through Decades

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Indian-American singing group Soor Aur Saptak (SAS) held its ninth annual musical benefit on February 28th in Portland, Oregon. Featuring spellbinding Bollywood music, singing, and dancing, the event raised funds to provide eye care for children in India.

"It was so much fun!" gushes Seva's Senior Communications Manager, Smriti Chadha, who was in attendance. "A beautiful night of stunning music, singing, and traditional fashion."

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Our New Video: "What Can YOU Do With $50?" (ft. Bowlegged Lou)

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What can you do with $50? Legendary rapper, singer and movie-star "Bowlegged Lou" George took to the streets of Berkeley to find out! You may remember him as "Pee-Wee" from the movie House Party. In our new video, Lou interviewed people going about their daily routine, asking what they could do if they had a crisp $50 burning a hole in their wallets. Some said shopping for clothes; others said buying music online. All of them were shocked to learn that they could restore someone's sight with as little as $50, and thus transform that person's life forever.

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Seva Partnership with First Nations Community HealthSource

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Even in high-income countries like the United States, millions of people do not have access to proper vision care. One group that suffers disproportionately from avoidable blindness and visual impairment are Native American communities. Seva seeks to address this disparity through our American Indian Sight Initiative. For over thirty years, we have worked to improve the health and wellbeing of the indigenous people of the U.S.

Over the past year, Seva and First Nations Community HealthSource have researched ways to make eye care more available to Native Americans living in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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"The Spotlight Ain't Treatin' Me Well": Corey Smith's Story

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Have you ever wondered what it's like to be an artist and lose your sight? Country singer/songwriter, and longtime Seva supporter, Corey Smith has recently released a song explaining his challenges and fears as a musician living with visual impairment. Entitled "Goin' Blind," the track describes the frustration, isolation, and worry that comes with the loss of sight. "The people I know are gettin' hard to recognize, and I'm scared," he laments.

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Seva Partners Inaugurate New Clinics in Bangladesh

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Seva continues to reach out to communities in the most isolated places on Earth. In early March this year, Ispahani Islamia Eye Institute & Hospital, our partners in Bangladesh, inaugurated new clinics in Rangabali and Mehendiganj. These remote islands are situated in the Bay of Bengal, off the southern coast of the mainland. In the local dialect of Bengali, "Rangabali" means "red sand," and the beaches there truly are picturesque.

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Seva Calls for New Tech Ideas in Vision Care

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On February 24, Seva announced a broad, ambitious call for ideas to identify innovative technology-based solutions to improve eye care delivery. Seva has committed up to $50,000 to five different recipients each, for a total of $250,000, to spark bold new innovations in technology to help people see.

The call for ideas is open to all hospitals that are currently an active part of Seva's Global Sight Initiative. The Global Sight Initiative, a network of more than 100 hospitals around the world, collaborates to accelerate the development of high quality, high volume, sustainable eye care services through innovation, training, mentoring, research, and advocacy.

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