SEVA: Preventing Blindness in the Developing World

Philanthropy has always been a core part of the Paperblanks company ethos.  Our Social Commitment blog series will cover the organizations we support who are doing tangible work at a community level.

Seva: Bringing Eye Care To The Developing World

Seva Canada is an eye-care and blindness-prevention organization. Their vision is a world in which no one is needlessly blind or visually impaired and where those with unavoidable vision loss can achieve their full potential. Their mission is to restore sight and prevent blindness in the developing world.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind and 246 million have low vision. It doesn’t have to be this way; 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented, treated or cured. Ninety percent of the world’s blind live in the developing world.

The main cause of blindness is cataract, a clouding of the eye’s lens. A 10-minute cataract surgery costing $50 or less will restore sight and transform lives. Giving someone back their sight through eye surgery or prescription glasses is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce poverty.

Paperblanks’ Partnership With Seva

Paperblanks’ partnership with Seva Canada began in 2007 and was designed to help Seva raise funds to provide eye care in the developing world.

The program is simple: We donate thousands of journals to Seva, who then sells these journals. 100% of the profits they fundraise go to prevent blindness and restore sight.

In the first three years of  our partnership Seva has so far raised over $45,000 CDN from Paperblanks sales, all of which has helped them train doctors in eye care, ophthalmologists in cataract surgery, purchase eye care equipment, and pay for life-changing cataract surgeries.

The Seva Story

Inspired by the World Health Organization’s conquest of smallpox, an unusual kaleidoscope of physicians, mystics, professors and clowns joined with a group of smallpox fighters from around the world to give birth to the Seva Foundation in the US. In December 1978, this diverse group of people pledged themselves to transform their deep commitment to service into useful action.

Among Seva’s founders were Dr. Larry Brilliant, the epidemiologist and former head of the Google Foundation, his wife Girija Brilliant, Wavy Gravy, the 1960s icon and clown, Ram Dass, the spiritual teacher, Nicole Grasset, a Swiss-French medical virologist and microbiologist  and senior smallpox advisor for southeast Asia, and Dr. Venkataswamy, ophthalmologist and founder of Aravind.

The Seva Service Society, later Seva Canada, was started in Vancouver 1982 by Dr. Bev Spring and Dr Alan Morinis, to share the vision of a world where individual actions can make a difference.

The Seva Foundation (www.seva.org) based in Berkeley, CA and Seva Canada (www.seva.ca) are sister organizations who are independent  but who share the same principles and goals.

In 2012, Seva Canada will celebrate 30 years of providing sustainable eye care programs in the developing world. Seva Canada now works in 9 of the world’s poorest and most remote countries to help communities develop their own capacity to deliver affordable eye care services. Seva provides funding and expertise to partners in Nepal, Tibet, India, Tanzania and eastern Africa, Cambodia, Guatemala, Malawi, Madagascar and Egypt.

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