Ahmedabad is a metropolitan city in Western India. It is the 5th most populated city in the country, with a population size of over 5.5 million. Of that number, 34% are living in slums or chawls. In fact, Ahmedabad is home to nearly 700 different slum settlements. Conditions in these areas of the city are tough. Some homes have electricity and running water supplied by the government, others do not. Income levels within the slums are low to non-existent, making it difficult for families to afford food, clean water, and other essential needs. While the government works to address the competing needs of those living in these areas, affordable access to healthcare – including vision care – can be scarce.
THE LOCAL VISION CARE GAP
There are many reasons why access to vision care is out of reach for the lower class. Either it’s too expensive, or the providers who are within reach financially offer substandard care. Just getting to see a vision care provider also plays a factor, as traveling around the city requires a vehicle, money for transport, or a very long walk.
This past year OneSight traveled to Ahmedabad to help address some of these issues. Our team of volunteers was able to serve over 5,000 locals in 10 days. Special thanks to our partner— Manav Sadhna—who worked tirelessly to pre-screen patients, gather translators and set up our clinic site. While our charitable efforts in Ahmedabad came to a close at the end of our clinic, Manav Sadhna’s efforts to “love all, serve all” continue on in the day-to-day.
EMPOWERING A COMMUNITY: MANAV SADHNA
Amid the chaos of Ahmedabad, India lies a beacon of light & empowerment. Fueled by love and Gandhiji’s teachings, Manav Sadhna is a nonprofit organization that works to empower their community and each individual in it. Their programs and services exist to educate, employ, promote equality and ultimately show love and kindness to any individual who comes to them. Their team exudes genuinity, selflessness and humility. When someone needs help, no matter who they are or what socioeconomic background they come from, they step in to lend a hand.
A few OneSight team members had the honor of visiting one of the partner organization’s local centers, which is situated within the center of a large slum. As our team traveled closer to the center, the vivid scene taking place outside of the car windows began to provide each person with a small glimpse at what life is like for members of this community – and the picture painted was quite a challenging one. Animals, people and trash sprinkled the narrow streets of the neighborhood. Smoke, debris and noise filled the air. But when we reached the center, the chaos settled. It was clear to us that the center itself is a safe haven from everything beyond its walls. This was the community’s home.
Manav Sadhna’s center was beautifully decorated, made entirely of recycled materials. Children skipped about with their latest artwork in hand as they eagerly waited for their dance class to begin. We were shown around the grounds, fascinated by all the organization had created for members of their community. A multilingual library sat in one corner, a tech lab in the other. Children were offered classes before and after school hours, with subjects ranging from art to computers, music, dance and more. While some local women worked onsite with the children, others worked just below in a recycling center where they were paid a fair wage. This community ecosystem ran like a well-oiled machine, empowering the young through education and activity while lifting up their elders through economic opportunity and support.
OneSight is proud to partner with local organizations like Manav Sadhna, whose dedication to serving others shines through in all that they do. Interested in learning more about our 2019 clinic in Ahmedabad, India? Read our clinic blog post.