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Over $ 50,000 collected at Sankara Eye Foundation's annual fundraiser

The organisation plans to establish at least twenty ophthalmic hospitals in various parts of India by 2020 for performing over one million free eye surgeries, reports Shalini Kathuria Narang.

world Updated: Jun 28, 2007 20:56 IST

The Flint Center for Performing Arts Center in Cupertino, California, came alive to the sounds of sonorous Hindi songs on the evening of Friday, June 22 in the aptly titled musical extravaganza called Roshini organised by Sankara Eye Foundation (SEF) featuring top line Bollywood singers.

No disability is as debilitating as loss of sight and Sankara Eye Foundation tasked with eradicating curable blindness in India highlights its goal as 20/20 by Year 2020. The organisation plans to establish at least twenty ophthalmic hospitals in various parts of India by 2020 for performing over one million free eye surgeries.

As one of the most successful philanthropic organisations serving the needy in India, Sankara Eye Foundation has carved a proverbial niche for itself in setting successful programs, including the much-awaited annual Dandia jigs. The fundraiser on Friday attended by over 2000 raised around $ 50,000 for the varied hospitals.

The program was also Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu's first performance in their 2007-music tour in US and in a showcase of successful starters of sorts, the accomplished and experienced singers and showmen mesmerized the Bay area audience for over four hours with many independent and joint melodies from several old and new Hindi movies.

From melodious and classic old melodies of Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar duets to fast-paced EK Do Teen number and other new songs from Don and other flicks, the performers catered to the tastes of both old and young audience. Mona Singh with her troupe of dancers interlaced the show with Bollywood dance numbers like Chamma Chamma and others.

The highlight of the performance was Alka and Kumar Sanu's entertaining musical enacting of the life cycle of lovers- a la Hindi movie ishtyle. They commenced the hilarious portion with the romantic journey of love at first sight, followed by marriage, post marital discords and finally a realization of lost love and conscious efforts in rekindling of amour.

During the half time break, after the presentation of a movie about SEF's work in India, Murali Krishnamurthi, the SEF Chairman thanked the audience for their support and acknowledged the volunteers for their hard work. He enumerated the need for continued financial and other support for the myriad initiatives and detailed the programs towards which the funds from the event, including the construction of hospitals in Bangalore and Shimoga in Karnataka, Anand in Gujarat and Guntur in Andhra Pradesh are directed.

Last year via continued support and aggressive fundraising activities, the Foundation's revenue crossed the two million dollars mark allowing the team in India to perform over 57,000 free eye surgeries at the three hospitals in India.

Talking about the upcoming plans of the organisation, Muckai Girish, one of the Trustees said, "We are happy that on June 18th construction has started for the hospital in Anand, which will be operational in about a year. The construction of the hospital in Bangalore is also expected to complete by November this year for which Sankara Eye Foundation in USA has committed around $1.4 million. The expansion of the hospital in Guntur to a 200- bed facility is also in full swing and we expect to complete it in the second half of this year. Our budget for this is over $500,000. The construction of Shimoga has also commenced and is slated to complete in about a year from now. Our commitment to this project is $1.2 million of which we have raised more than $200,000 and our goal is to raise at least $500,000 this year."

Enthusiasm and energy of the volunteers is contagious and the satisfaction of selfless service towards a cause that one believes in is undoubtedly mentally, physically, spiritually and psychologically uplifting.

First Published: Jun 28, 2007 20:43 IST