SEE International Provides Essential, Transformative Eye Care and Surgery Worldwide | Good for Santa Barbara

ByMartha R. Camara

Nov 17, 2021

Posted on November 17, 2021
| 15:00

It’s time to get into the holiday spirit and get involved in giving back to your community. Join Noozhawk this #GivingTuesday and donate to your favorite local nonprofits.

Noozhawk partners with local nonprofits to encourage you to participate in International Giving Day, which takes place on November 30, 2021.

It’s no secret that the past year and a half has been full of challenges. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, local nonprofits need your support more than ever.

Our Good for Santa Barbara nonprofit section provides all the resources you need to donate this holiday season, including a comprehensive giving guide with a list of local nonprofits that need your help. help this tuesday donations.

In this interview, Noozhawk spoke with Rachel Tennant, Director of Development at SEE International, to learn more about how the non-profit organization is dedicated to providing life-saving and transformative eye care and surgery in the world. whole world.

SEE International

Question: What is the name and mission of your association?

To respond: SEE International provides essential and transformative eye care and eye surgeries around the world and right here at home. We bring together medical volunteers and partners to care for those who need it most. Our teams work side by side with local doctors.

Q: How long has your association been in operation?

A: SEE International was founded in 1974 by Dr. Harry Brown.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your non-profit organization?

A: After completing his studies, Dr. Harry Brown embarked on a year-long journey around the world with his wife, four children and mother, working as a visiting ophthalmologist in Johannesburg, South Africa; North Gujarat, India; and Kabul, Afghanistan.

Q: How is your nonprofit primarily funded and what are your greatest needs?

A: SEE receives the majority of its funding from individual donations, although we also receive support from organizations such as the Alcon Foundation or Johnson & Johnson Vision. SEE not only continuously strengthens existing partnerships, especially with local organizations, but also continuously seeks new funding opportunities aligned with our mission and values. Thanks to this diversity of funding sources, SEE is able to guarantee a continuous service without depending on one group or organization.

Q: How has COVID-19 impacted your nonprofit?

A: Despite the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, SEE is proud to have remained committed to our vital sight restoration work. Although travel restrictions have prevented our volunteers from participating in international clinics in 2020, SEE has used this time to adapt our programs and find new ways to meet the needs of the communities we serve. To ensure the continuation of our international efforts during this time, we have focused on providing our international partners with the essential consumables and equipment needed to continue providing sight restoration surgeries to areas in need.

Q: How does your nonprofit use its funding?

A: SEE uses its funding to fight preventable and treatable blindness by providing short-term international clinics, training for aspiring humanitarian ophthalmologists, and national eye care services, including our local Santa Barbara Vision Care program.

Q: How do people get involved or volunteer for your nonprofit?

A: In the 47 years since our organization was founded, we have restored sight to more than 650,000 people in more than 45 countries. At SEE, we appreciate support in any way possible. There are many creative ways to help us transform someone’s life through the gift of sight! Here are some suggestions for other ways to support SEE’s sight restoration efforts:

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Santa Barbara Vision Care Girls Inc. event (SEE international photo.)

Peer to Peer Fundraisers – Create and host your own fundraising campaign! Gather your friends and family and inspire people across the country to join us in our efforts to provide essential eye care to those in need. With peer-to-peer fundraising, you can create your own fundraising page and invite others to join, bringing people together to transform lives with the precious gift of sight.

Share us on social media – Raising awareness is one of the first steps in action against preventable blindness. By sharing our content or tagging us on social media, you can not only educate others about the need to make eye care more accessible around the world, but also invite them to join us in taking action!

Volunteer at Headquarters – Do you live in or near Santa Barbara? We sometimes need practical help with our operations and administration.

Q: Can you share a story or two of people whose lives have been changed because of your organization?

A: One of the many patients who have recently benefited from SEE’s efforts is six-year-old Olivia, who dreams of one day becoming an art teacher. A few years ago, when she was only three years old, Olivia put on her grandmother’s glasses to “play teacher” with her cousin. After spending time wearing glasses, she told her family that they actually helped her see better. Her parents then took her to a SEE clinic for screening, only to find that she needed her own glasses. Now, three years later, she’s back for another pair. During Olivia’s date, her mother noted how important it is for her daughter to see: “Our vision is everything,” she said, “[Olivia] really like to draw and paint and I want her to be able to do those things. With her brand new pair of glasses and school supplies, Olivia has everything she needs to not only succeed this school year, but also to keep doing what she loves! “

Jhari Singha is a 70-year-old woman from Altapur village in Karandighi, India. Sadly, the only living family she has is an unmarried son, as her husband passed away 11 years ago. Prior to her husband’s death, Jhari had no mobility problems and her sight was clear. However, her vision gradually deteriorated over the years and it became difficult for her son to care for her. Despite her son’s care, Jhari lived in fear and began to struggle to communicate as her vision diminished, saddened by the loss of her independence. Worried about his mother’s worsening condition, Jhari’s son took her to see a doctor, who diagnosed Jhari with a severe cataract in his left eye. Jhari and her son could not afford the treatment she needed, so she was quickly enrolled in a free surgery program in partnership with SEE. Soon after, Jhari benefited from free cataract surgery funded by SEE International. Her son reports that her vision has improved dramatically and he is happy to say that since her sight has returned, Jhari has regained her confidence.

Q: Why should donors trust your organization and are there other ways to help besides donations?

A: SEE places great importance on transparency with all of our individual donors, as well as with organizational funders. To that end, SEE received the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Guidestar in 2021, as well as an Encompass rating of 100 out of 100 from CharityNavigator. For anyone who would like to see this transparency for themselves, we recommend reading our annual reports or financial statements at https://www.seeintl.org/annual-reports/.

Q: Can you tell us one short-term goal AND one long-term goal your nonprofit has for the next year?

A: In the short term, SEE is focused on maintaining the reach and quality of care for our existing programs. This includes programs such as our local vision care center in Santa Barbara, direct supply support to our partners in India and Nepal, and training courses in manual small incision cataract surgery. Our goal is to serve a total of over 30,000 people in 2021 through all of our programs.

Our long-term goal is to permanently reduce the global epidemic of avoidable blindness. Each year, volunteers from SEE’s global network of eye care professionals go where there is a need, donating equipment and supplies, providing education and using their expertise to help host physicians ease the burden. blindness in their area.

To do this, we are constantly expanding our educational programs, exploring new partnerships with eye care professionals and institutions who share our goal, and increasing our direct supply support to existing partners who need our help treating patients suffering from diseases such as cataracts.

Click here to support SEE International’s mission to improve access to high quality eye care and surgery worldwide.