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Engaged Buddhism Update: Non-profit FHSM Holds Free Eye Clinic in Hyderabad on Christmas Day

The free eye camp in Hyderabad. Image courtesy of FHSM

The Buddhist non-profit organization Foundation of His Sacred Majesty (FHSM) conducted a free eye-health camp for underprivileged communities in the Indian city of Hyrderabad on Sunday. The clinic was part of the FHSM’s ongoing Samyak Drushti Project to provide free eye-care and treatment for the underprivileged in India—in particular Dalit communities in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Telangana.

“We conducted an eye camp on 25 December at the Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Youth Welfare Association, in the Khairathabad neighborhood of Hyderabad, with the help of Dr. Sairam, Dr.Sridhar, and Dr. Imtiyaz of Hyderabad Eye Hospital,” FHSM project coordinator Rahul Yashwardan shared with BDG. “During the camp, a total of 357 beneficiaries were screened, out of whom 28 will be supported for cataract surgery. Another 74 people will be supported with spectacles, while 84 people have been referred to higher medical institutions for further treatment. FHSM will coordinate with the beneficiaries and the hospitals for their treatment, including blood tests, collection of reports, scheduling surgeries and treatment follow-up, and providing spectacles.”

Headquartered in Chennai (formerly Madras) in Tamil Nadu, FHSM is founded on the principals of socially engaged Buddhism and works closely with deprived and marginalized communities. The foundation’s work is based on four broad principles: protection and conservation of ecosystems; promoting alternative healthcare systems; social transformation through strengthening grassroots democracy and good governance; and sustainable livelihoods, education, and social empowerment. 

“Blindness is one of the most debilitating health disorders, and avoidable blindness is a major international health problem,” FHSM president Rev. Gauthama Prabu told BDG earlier in December. “The World Health Organization estimates that 180 million people suffer from severe visual impairment (legally blind by international standards). The leading cause of blindness throughout the world is cataracts, and 90 per cent of this blindness is found in the developing world. Approximately 80 per cent of blindness is avoidable and can be prevented or cured with appropriate treatment. FHSM proposes supporting 10 remote eye camps per year through the Samyak Drushti Project.”

The clinics are supported by the Mumbai-headquartered company All Cargo Logistics, with medical expertise provided in cooperation with medical organizations such as Agarwal Eye Hospital and the L. V. Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad. During the first phase of the project this year, five free mobile eye-care camps were organized in the port city of Chennai from 13 August–9 September, treating 366, 375, 356, 349, and 356 people, respectively. In Hyderabad, two mobile clinics were organized on 28 August and 25 September, treating 345 and 376 beneficiaries, respectively. Further clinics are planned into next year.*

“Cataracts are a prevalent problem for many Dalits,” Rev. Prabu explained. “With little access to education and healthcare, many Dalits’ eyesight slowly deteriorates, resulting in total blindness. FHSM has met with people from Dalit groups who have lived with needless blindness for years and the foundation has provided medical treatment and care on their behalf.”

FHSM founder and president Rev. Gauthama Prabhu. Image courtesy of FHSM

India’s Dalit community faces frequent social and economic exclusion as a result of India’s conservative Hindu social hierarchy. Dalit, which translates as “broken” in Sanskrit, is a term for the very lowest castes, which “higher” castes even today deem “untouchable,” despite legal prohibitions of the practice in the Constitution of India.

Generally believed to date back more than 3,000 years, India’s caste system remains culturally pervasive. Although discrimination against lower castes is illegal, segregation, discrimination, and exploitation remain a daily reality for the country’s roughly 200 million Dalits, who are not permitted to attend the same temples or schools, or even drink from the same cups or wells as “higher” castes. To escape this entrenched discrimination, many Dalits have turned to Buddhist conversion, which has given them a new community and opportunities, with a renewed sense of confidence and self-worth.

“There are still many Dalits and other members of Indian society who lack access to proper eye care due to poverty and low socio-economic status,” Rev. Prabu emphasized. “It’s the goal of FHSM to eliminate cataract-induced blindness. Already, thousands of individuals  in Tamil Nadu and Telangana have had their eyesight restored through the Samyak Drushti Project.”

Named in commemoration of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka (r. c. 268–c. 232 BCE), a key figure in the propagation of Buddhism across Asia, the Foundation of His Sacred Majesty was founded in 2007 with a mission to: “preserve, promote, and disseminate the principles of liberty, equality, fraternity, and social justice through non-formal education, sustainable livelihood, and conservation of ecology, alternative/preventive medicines, social empowerment, social advocacy, and social development in order for the restoration of the human dignity of the poor and marginalized.” (Facebook) FHSM is affiliated with the International Network of Engaged Buddhists.

Image courtesy of FHSM

For international donations:

Account name: Foundation of His Sacred Majesty
Bank: State Bank of India
Account number: 31203682095
Branch: Selaiyur, Chennai
IFSC code: SBIN0007948

For donations within India:

Account name: Foundation of His Sacred Majesty
Bank: State Bank of India
Account number: 30522574810
Branch: Selaiyur, Chennai
IFSC code: SBIN0007948

For more information: 

Email[email protected]
Tel: +91-9791239333 / +91-8680020086 / +91-9840813935

* Engaged Buddhism: Non-profit FHSM Offers Progress Report on Free Eye Clinic Program (BDG)

See more

Foundation of His Sacred Majesty (Facebook)
Foundation of His Sacred Majesty India (YouTube)
Foundation of His Sacred Majesty (LinkedIn)
International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB)

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