It was time to stand up and salute the indomitable will of the lady who defied blindness and sound bytes and went on to become the very epitome of hope, courage, confidence and service to millions. It was also a day to recall the services and contribution of Dr G.Sitalakshmi one of the finest surgeons who had served Sankara Nethralaya and a warm human being whose memory still moistens the eyes of members of the Sankara Nethralaya family. The Lion’s club of Central Madras and Sankara Nethralaya came together to offer their collective salute to these great women by recognizing and rewarding those who had imbibed their spirit of service and compassion and rendered extraordinary service to mankind.
The function started at the Sri V.D Swami Auditorium on June 1, 2012 with a symbolic observation of silence for world peace, delivering the welcome address Lion Andal Rajaram showered praise on the winners of the various awards. Describing Sankara Nethralaya as a second home of the Lions from the Lions club of Central Madras, she praised the selfless service of Dr SS.Badrinath and the social commitment of doctors like Dr Pramod Bhende, she closed her address with a special mention about the stupendous efforts of Lion Harinarayanan towards organizing the function.
Speaking on the occasion Lion Jayaraman and Lion G.V Raman explained the significance of the day, tracing the association of the Lion’s with eye care from the historic day that Helen Keller made a clarion call at their Ohio conference. The latter recounted that it was Lion Harinarayanan’s brain child to constitute the gift of sight award in honour of Dr G.Sitalakshmi almost 13 years ago. Deputy Director of Corneal Services Dr Rama Rajagopal gave an emotional account of her association with Late Dr G.Sitalakshmi, her amazing skills, knowledge, her passion for corneal transplants, warm personality and the wonderful moments spent together.
This was followed by awarding of the ‘Knight of the blind’ award and Dr G.Sitalakshmi award by the Chief Guest Mr. Mike Nithavarianakis and dignitaries from the Lions’ club and Sankara Nethralaya as follows
1. Dr Swapnali Sabhapandit was awarded the Dr G.Sitalakshmi award for rendering extraordinary service by way of eye care in the remote regions of Assam through the Gauhati Lion’s eye Hospital
2. Dr Mehul Shah and Dr Shreya Shah for providing cost free eye care to the tribals of Dahot District, Gujarat through their charitable hospital Drashti Netralaya awarded the Knight of the Blind Award
3. Shrimathi Surekha Mehta of SWAN was awarded the ‘Knight of the blind’ award for her commitment to eradicate blindness and voluntary service to the blind and for nurturing a team of committed social workers under the umbrella of SWAN
4. The ‘New Indian Express’ was awarded the I care award for its involvement in eye care and for immortalizing the names of eye donors every week in its paper. The award was received by Shri Vignesh Kumar, Vice-President, Marketing on behalf of the group Chairman, Shri Manoj Kumar Sonthalia. Shri Sudarshan, Editor was also felicitated on the occasion.
Delivering the Chief Guest’s address Mr. Mike Nithavarianakis, Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission, Chennai, expressed his high praise for the healthcare institutions in South India for successfully delivering free health care in such a large scale, he observed that doctors from distant Gujarat and Assam being selected for felicitation at a function being held in Chennai is a sign of the unity and national integrity of the country. He emphasized that Primary Healthcare could be one area that India can learn and improve from Britain’s ‘National Health Service’ which trained nurses in Allied Healthcare.
The function also saw the gifting of solar powered lamp kits to Aid India an NGO engaged in providing educational service to the poor. Separate cheques were handed over to Dr. Pramod Bhende by the Lion’s club of Central Madras to set up the dining room at the new JCOC and for bringing out ‘Insight’ the biography on Sankara Nethralaya
This was followed by the awarding of prizes to Sankara Nethralaya staff members from various departments by Lion Rajasekhar for their exemplary work. Dr. Pramod Bhende, Director, Medical Assets, Deputy Director & Senior Consultant, Sri Bhagwan Mahaveer Department of Vitro Retinal Surgery felicitated the winners of the various awards emphasizing that blindness prevention is not just an ophthalmic responsibility but a challenge to the entire mankind.
Delivering the Vote of thanks Lion Harinarayanan expressed his whole hearted thanks to the Chief guest, recipients of the awards for travelling long distances to be present at the function, Sankara Nethralaya staff for organizing the show in a grand manner and Dr SS.Badrinath for coming out with the novel idea of providing Solar Powered lamps to students.