Imagine not being able to read, travel anywhere, feed yourself, even go to the bathroom alone. That’s the reality for more than a billion people who live with a vision impairment. Of those billion people, almost 90% of them live in developing countries, where not being able to see often means a life of poverty and dependence.
Now imagine that help was in reach in the form of a simple surgery, a pair of glasses, or medicine. Seva makes it possible for people to get that help, regardless of their economic status or where they live.
To date, Seva has provided eye care services to more than 50 million people, 3.5 million people in the last year alone. The work spans more than 20 countries.
People like these students in Cambodia receive essential eye care to be able to learn and lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
Your project will bring awareness to the challenge facing millions around the world as well as right here in the US. We hope that once people know about preventable blindness and how inexpensive and effective a cure is, they’ll be inspired to help out.
You know you’re helping people lead independent, productive, and happy lives, but you’ll get rewards, too. When you finish your challenge, we’ll post your achievement on our website, social media accounts, and in our newsletter. You’ll get a certificate of completion, something directors love to see in scholarship, internship, or school applications. Oh, and swag that doesn’t suck.
– Bonnie Raitt, Singer / Songwriter
Forty-four years ago, a group of doctors, scientists, musicians, activists, and artists met in a cabin in the woods. In Michigan. In the winter. They were determined to find a way to make the world a better place, and a little snow and cold wouldn’t stop them. What resulted was the Seva (Sanskrit for “selfless service”) Foundation, formed with the purpose of ridding the world of preventable blindness.
When you join the Seva Squad, you’ll follow in the path of some amazing people.
The founder, Dr. Larry Brilliant, eradicated smallpox in India.
Co-founder Baba Ram Dass was a beloved spiritual teacher, guru, and author.
Sixties icon Wavy Gravy is a co-founder; he aslo established Camp Winnarainbow, based on equity, inclusion and interdependence.
While working away in his garage in the late 1970s, Steve Jobs made the first significant donation to help start Seva.
The Grateful Dead, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, and Joan Baez have supported Seva by performing in Seva’s famous concerts (hosted by Wavy Gravy.)
Watch the videos above to get a feel for our history and people.
– Steve Jobs, Apple CEO / Honorary Seva Co-founder
If you’re in middle school or high school (13-18 years of age), you can apply to be on the Seva Squad as an ambassador for the Seva Foundation. As an ambassador, you’ll use your unique skills and talent to raise awareness around Seva's mission to end preventable blindness, whether that’s completing a virtual physical challenge, creating a video, making a craft, or something completely different. It’s up to you!
Complete a project that communicates the importance of eye care for everyone, everywhere in the world. Projects can be physical, artistic, maker-based, basically whatever you are good at. Some suggestions for projects are listed on The Challenges.
Raise support and awareness for the Seva Foundation’s mission and programs.
Collaborate with the Seva Foundation to ensure a successful outcome.
The opportunity to partner with a national nonprofit to support people in need.
You'll be featured on Seva’s website, social media channels, and program collateral.
Further develop your communications and leadership skills.
Fulfill community engagement and volunteer hour requirements.
Add to your high school or college portfolio.
– Bob Weir, Grateful Dead / Seva Lifetime Honorary Board Member
Seva was founded by a collection of thinkers, scientists, creators, and artists who came together to change the world for the better. Here is your opportunity to carry on that legacy.
Below are suggestions for your project, but any ideas you have to spread the word about Seva are welcome and encouraged.
Compose and perform a song of no less than two minutes in length. Your song doesn’t necessarily need to be about blindness, but something along the lines of Wavy Gravy’s “Basic Human Needs” is great too.
Make a movie about vision challenges, three minutes minimum. It could be about a student struggling with vision, a wizard helping a town under a curse, or maybe a documentary about someone you know. Any genre, any plotline is encouraged.
Write a story with a character who has sight challenges. You can write a regular story, a graphic novel, a series of cartoons, or a monologue; you could also write a speech or essay to present for an upcoming competition or class assignment. The field is wide open.
The visual arts are powerful. Paintings, drawings, sculptures, photos, etc., can evoke feelings from deep within for both artist and audience. There are tons of stories and videos on our website about people who have regained their vision through Seva. Browse through a few and use their experience for inspiration.
For you crafty participants who express yourselves through handiwork, show us your STEM project: woodworking, leather tooling, beadwork, robot building, bookbinding, even your kitchen skills! In any project, we’d like you to incorporate some type of graphic or symbol that reflects Seva. For example, if you’re making a work apron, include the Seva logo, an eye symbol, or the word “Seva” on the apron.
Seva began their mission to cure preventable blindness 40 years ago, when they studied blindness in Nepal. Your challenge is to run, swim, walk, bikewhatever you’re good at – 40 miles in total.
You can break up the miles into as many stages as you need. Every time you complete a swim/ride/run/walk be sure to log the distance so it goes towards your goal. Miles can be logged via your favorite exercise app – just share your information with firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fill in the form to answer a few questions about yourself, your ideas, and your project.
You’ll receive an acknowledgement email within 24 hours thanking you for participating and your next steps. Then it’s time for you to get to work on your project! If you get stuck or have questions, don’t hesitate to contact Judy Zimola. She’s invested in you and your success, so no question is too big or small.
– Ram Dass, Seva Co-Founder
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