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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont

Photographs that speak of compassion and love, and each photograph conveys more than a thousand words. An amazing showcase of breathtaking photography as the Seva Foundation commemorates its 40th anniversary by organizing a wonderful exhibition of photographs that capture the essence of this relentless fight against preventable blindness around the world. Started off on September 7th, the “Vision in Focus: 40 years of Restoring Sight, A Retrospective” exhibition is open to the public till September 30th at Warehouse 416, Oakland, California.

Photography has been one of the main tools of the organization in raising awareness of communities who struggle with sight. “It was one of the ideas of our staff members to curate a photography exhibition that collectively showcases our 40 years of journey and efforts to prevent blindness and restoring sight around the globe. We have been fortunate enough to have really talented photographers who have donated their work for our cause. They have understood the need and worked along with Seva in raising awareness on vision care and improving lives on a global scale,” said Julie Nestingen, Director of Development, Seva Foundation and also one of the photographers who is participating at the exhibition.

The retrospective gallery displays a beautiful collection of photographs that highlights stories of different communities, who have gained a new perspective on life through the works of Seva. The exhibition features photography from talented photographers like Ellen Crystal, Rebecca Gaal, Jon Kaplan, Julie Nestingen and Joe Raffanti.

“It’s a special kind of gratifying experience to be associated with such a wonderful cause and the Seva foundation. You get to see a different perspective of humanity and being able to capture their moments of happiness is really heartening. Photographs have a better way to convey emotions than words, they tell a story in itself. The before and after photographs of people from the communities who struggle with sight, rightfully defines the impact others can bring on the lives of needy people through their compassionate efforts,” stated Jon Kaplan, one of the photographers who traveled along with the Seva Foundation to different countries in Asia, Africa and South America to capture their admirable service to humanity.

Photography is also considered as an effective method of communication that brushes away the boundaries of language and culture. According to another participating photographer, Rebecca Gaal, “Photography is a way to connect with people especially with those who do not speak the same language. There is a story behind every photograph and it directly conveys and makes people understand the gravity of change one can bring to the lives of other people.” She was the one who curated the photography exhibition by selecting thirty photographs from the entire collection of 40 years of Seva.

“Seva is an incredible organization that works towards this never-ending struggle and I love to capture their amazing moments. Understanding the lives of people who are struggling with sight and photographing them is a different experience. I really hope that more people get a chance to interact with such communities, create experiences and work towards making a difference in the global world for a greater need,” she added.

Founded in 1978, the Seva Foundation has been working towards restoring sight and eradicating preventable blindness across the globe over the years. Supporting eye care initiatives in more than 20 countries, the Berkeley-based organization offers universal access to healthy vision care through affordable medical treatments and low-cost surgeries. It also partners with local hospitals by empowering them with efficient resources and mentoring them to improve the infrastructure and quality of eye-care services.

“Our aim is to eradicate treatable and preventable blindness across the world. Restoring sight not just helps an individual in leading a better life and achieving more from it, but also benefits the entire family, caretakers or community in having a new outlook towards life. According to the global aging population, the population of blind people is expected to triple in 2050 and we really need to work towards such an important cause,” opined Julie Nestingen.

“Photographs are so compelling and are a great way to tell a story. We expect people to understand the sentiments of different communities across the globe and the vital need through our exhibition as we continue to work towards our relentless fight against preventable blindness around the world,” added the Director.

With an aim of ‘Vision in Focus’, the exhibition not just conveys the remarkable journey of an organization but also gives insights into the lives of people, who are struggling to have at the least a clear image of the world around them. The exhibition is open to public for the whole month of September, showcasing 30 photographs in total from five great photographers.

Suchithra Pillai comes with nearly a decade’s experience in the field of journalism, exploring and writing about people, issues, and community stories for many leading publications in India and United States. In her spare time, you can find her scribbling down some thoughts on paper, trying to find a rhyme or story out of small things, or expressing her love for dance on stage.

This article was curated by Culture and Media Editor, Geetika Pathania Jain.

Cover photo credit: Joe Raffanti

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Suchithra Pillai

Tell-A-Story is a venture into video storytelling, founded by Suchithra Pillai, who comes with over 15 years of experience in the field of journalism, exploring and writing about people, issues, and community...