Service Organization | Letters | Chicago Reader

Service Organization 

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To the editors:

When Craig Bradley ["A Surgeon's Gift," August 4] says, "Lots of other doctors are doing third-world work. Ophthalmologists were among the first, treating cataracts," he's probably referring to the seva foundation. Seva has performed tens of thousands of cataract operations in Nepal and India. At Himalayan altitudes, the ultraviolet can lead to cataracts in middle age, and in the Himalayas, if you can't see, you sit. A basic cataract operation, restoring the sight of one eye, can cost only $15.

Founded 10 years ago to eliminate unnecessary blindness, seva's board is a unique mix ranging from Nicole Grasse, who ran the World Health Organization project which eradicated smallpox, to Ram Dass and Wavy Gravy. "Seva" is the Sanskrit word for "service"; seva simply calls itself, "a service organization."

Other projects have ranged from providing livestock to the widows of "disappeareds" in Guatemala, giving families an economic base, to a fundraiser in New York last fall for the homeless, with performers ranging from Carly Simon and Graham Nash to the Gyoto Buddhist monks.

Although as much as 8% of seva's income goes to overhead, most of the overhead comes from donations for that specific purpose; donations go 100% to eye treatments in Asia. One of the regular fundraisers is the "seva table" at the back of the hall at every Grateful Dead concert.

Seva's office is at 108 Spring Lake Drive; Chelsea MI 48118-9701.

Neil Rest

W. Bryn Mawr

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