Letter from the Executive Director

Ram Dass' life taught many of us that when we get lost in service, in giving to others love, kindness, and compassion, we become closer as humankind. He was one of the north stars behind Seva's vision for over 40 years, and his legacy lives on in what we do every day.

At the end of January, we celebrated his life at a memorial service in San Francisco, the same venue where almost fifty years ago, he gave a series of lectures that became part of his seminal book Be Here Now. It was an evening of love, joy, reflection, and service, all qualities that Ram Dass exemplified throughout his life.

As we carry on the work of Seva in our own lives – to love, to serve, and to give – I think of his quote that I used in my very first newsletter message to each of you back in April of 2017: "We're all just walking each other home."

I understood back then, just two weeks on the job, as I do today, that we can only eliminate avoidable blindness in our lifetime through partnership, and true community. In the past two years, together with our partners, the staff at Seva has achieved a level of unprecedented focus to our work that allows us to be more clear on who we are and what we hope to achieve.

While the entire Seva team is humbled by the scale of the work ahead – we are more ready than ever to take our place and help lead the way. We know from four decades of success that the secret to sustainability is the combination of access, capacity, and evidence. In the coming months, we aim to raise additional funds to help us eliminate avoidable blindness in our lifetime.

In the past 24 months, we have tripled our outreach and commitment to the Native Nations Community across the USA. We have a bold and brave vision for Latin America with our partner Visualiza leading the way to end avoidable blindness in the next decade, and we have real progress in the two communities where we have national staff. In my most recent trip in January 2020, I confirmed that both Nepal and Cambodia have made significant advancements in the elimination of avoidable blindness since our arrival decades ago (40 years for Nepal and 20 years for Cambodia).

Our mission is more relevant today, and Seva is ready to help more people than ever before in our history. In January, we launched a campaign C20/20 designed to grow Seva’s impact over the next 3-5 years through our four key drivers: establishing new vision centers that will reach millions, providing pediatric care, job training and job creation for new professionals and paraprofessionals, and investing in new technology. You can find more details in our most recent Annual Report. I look forward to sharing more about this initiative with you in the coming months.

Above: Ram Dass photo by Perry Julien taken at December 2019 Maui retreat.

As you enjoy the newsletter, know that YOU made this possible. Every monthly donor, major donor, corporate foundation, family foundation, and concert ticket go-er. All the alternative gifts bought through Gifts of Sight and those of you who remember us in your planned giving each and every one of you are why we can share such a story of love and success.

We will continue to reflect on Ram Dass' passing. I want to end this letter with his eternal message of loving awareness. When we look out at the ocean and see waves, we see something with a beginning and an end. To the water, however, the wave does not end. It simply goes back to what it always was – water.

As we embrace 2020, I ask each of us to become the new wave of Seva. We are not separate from the fabric of love and selfless service that stretches over 40 years; rather, we are a new and continued expression of our commitment to compassion in action, fueled by excellent science and rigorous data.

Yours in Service,


P.S. Click here if you would like to see the Remembering Ram Dass Memorial Service held on January 31, 2020.

P.P.S. To learn more about how you can make a difference in our C20/20 campaign, please reach out to Julie Nestingen at jnestingen@seva.org

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