Indian American Teen in Bid to Fight BlindnessTop Stories

January 07, 2019 10:06
Indian American Teen in Bid to Fight Blindness

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An Indian American teen from Portland, Oregon, is making an effort to make the world an improved place for the visually impaired through a non-profit organization 'The I Mission,' that he launched while he was 14-year-old.

The 12th grader, Sai Hitesh Vavilapalli, whose parents migrated from Visakhapatnam to the United States, flew to India with his parents for the Christmas holidays when he was 14 years old.

"When we were here, my parents would engage in social work at a blind school in Kakinada. It was then I realized I should also do my best to give something back to society, and do something for the underprivileged," Sai Hitesh said.

Sai Hitesh, with the aim of raising funds for his non-profit, after flying back to Portland organized a cultural night and amassed $4,200.

Read: 11-Yr-Old Indian Origin Boy Saves a Man from Drowning in Pool 

"Next December, we came back to Visakhapatnam, which is my parents' hometown. We organized a couple of free eye camps in association with Sankar Foundation Eye Hospital, and performed about 500 free cataract surgeries for the poor," Sai Hitesh said.

In the past three years, The I Mission has supported more than 5,000 free eye screenings, 1,719 cataract surgeries, and 13 retinal detachment surgeries, as well as adopting three blind schools in India.

"To fund the camps, we not only conduct cultural events but have also tied up with brands like Nike and Intel. We intend to approach some more corporate firms in the coming years," the 17-year-old said.

Sai Hitesh, who begun his benevolent journey on his own, now has a team of 11 concurring classmates based in Portland.

Cyclone Relief

In addition to organizing free eye camps, The I Mission as well supports victims of natural disasters such as hurricanes.

Lately, the team visited Mara and Mandasa villages in Srikakulam, which were ravaged by cyclone Titli, and provided assistance to victims by giving one bag of rice, cooking utensils, and two garments to each affected family. "We reached out to over 200 families in both the villages," he said.

Future Plans

Sai Hitesh, who aims to become a doctor, said he is working with a professor as a research intern at Oregon Health Science University to find out a remedy for cataract and eye problems among the tribals in the Eastern Ghats of India.

Sai Hitesh says The I Mission team intends to take the non-profit to the next level by tying up with corporate brands and spreading its wings across the world.

-Sowmya Sangam

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Tagged Under :
blindness  Indian American