Roots of Mission for Vision
Lijiraj revisits the books of history and shares with us how Mission for Vision came into existence.

It is always fascinating to learn about the genesis and history of setting up an organisation. It also gives the employees a good insight on the ethos and why the organisation came into existence in the first place, particularly for development sector organisations.

Similar to other social sector setups, even Mission for Vision has a history and strong foundation of values that are a driving force for our day-to-day activities. Let us go back to the roots and understand this better.

Birth of Tulsi Rural Development Trust

As quoted by Mark Twain, “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see”. This principle was imbibed by Tulsi Trust's mentor and founder Mr. Mithumal Tulsi Chanrai.

Mr. Mithumal Tulsi Chanrai always had the motto “Help and serve for the needy always”. He also emphasized on the value of good sight and used to mention that “Eyes are the important asset”. He believed in the ideology that eyes play a pivotal part in helping you see the vibrant colours of the world. 

Adopting the principles of his father Late Mr. Mithumal Tulsi Chanrai, Mr. Jagdish M. Chanrai with the help of Mr. Mani Subramonian started the Tulsi Rural Development Trust (TRDT) in the year 1991 in Chennai to provide community eye health services to the poor and needy in south India. The objective of the trust was set for eye care. They were instrumental in providing community eye health services to the poor people spread across the rural areas close to Chennai. Mr. Mani Subramonian and Mr. Selva Durai followed the advice and sought the guidance of Mr. Jagdish Chanrai in running the trust. They decided to gift vision to the needy poor people, remove them from the clutches of darkness and bring back light in their life so that they can see the vibrant colours of the world and spread love and care. The trust that was started in the year 1991 as Tulsi Rural Development Trust has grown leaps and bounds in the last three decades and has become a popular name across the southern parts of India.

Blessings of Saint Mother Teresa

Mr. Mani Subramonian went on a trip to Mumbai for the inauguration of a building donated to Saint Mother Teresa for carrying out her services to the poor. After the inaugural function, Mr. Mani was lucky enough to have a meeting with the divine lady. At that point of time, Mr Mani used to spend only few days in India. So, she asked surprisingly that if all the people from India migrate, who will serve our country. This ignited a spark in his mind and led to his return to India from the U.K. to devote his entire time to serve the poor and needy from the rural areas.

Community Eye health Service

Amid his move back to India, Mr. Mani collaborated with Mr. Durai and he was involved in the services from 1995 onwards. Mr. Mani and Mr. Durai decided to select volunteers from areas in Sriperambadur, in Tamilnadu. They looked for volunteers who had the motto to serve the people wholeheartedly, with care and compassion and not focusing on monetary benefit. Around 350 volunteers actively came forward to serve the rural poor across the south.

Doctors from Sankara Nethralaya would travel to the rural areas in the hospital bus to screen patients and recommend necessary treatment. Initially, they would select 8 individuals for surgery, as the bed capacity for community patients used to be quite less in Sankara Nethralaya. This would make a total of 500 surgeries per year. As years passed by, they raised the surgery target from 500 to 3,500. With the growing need from the rural communities, Mr. Chanrai decided to launch a separate unit to serve the rural community in eye care. TRDT financially supported Sankara Nethralaya and there was a new and dedicated building in the year 1999; now the hospital is called Jaslok community Ophthalmic Centre - JCOC.

Once they gained the experience and understood the various challenges, Mr. J.M. Chanrai along with his close associates met with Saint Mother Teresa. Based on her guidance, they decided to set up a not-for-profit organisation in Mumbai and thus Mission for Vision came into existence in the year 2000.

Patient care and Mission For Vision

Mr. Durai and Mr. Mani discussed that the services rendered by them commences from organising camps, admission of patients to hospital and ends with the discharge of patients from the hospital. However, there was a huge gap in terms of follow up with the patients and in assessing their satisfaction levels on quality of service rendered. This thought process led to the introduction of Patient Care Department in 2007.

Mr. Durai has always been caring and compassionate towards patients. Without any doubts, he is rightly referred to as “King of Patient Care”. He spearheaded the Patient Care Department and developed robust processes thereon.

Today at Mission for Vision, we have branched out to various departments; however, our vision has remained constant. Mission for Vision strives to provide the best in class treatment to the patients and also assesses patient’s satisfaction levels frequently. We even go further and evaluate the effectiveness of eye screening camps, hospital facilities and frequently share the feedback with partners in order to further improve our services to communities in need.

This blog post was written by Lijiraj in consultation and inputs from Mr. Mani Subramonian.

About the Author: Lijiraj S is a Manager with the Programme Impact team at Mission for Vision. He is based in Chennai and is closely working with Sankara Eye Hospitals in Coimbatore, Krishnan Kovil, Bengaluru, Shimoga, Guntur, JCOC/Sankara Nethralaya in Chennai and Sri Srinivasa Sankara Nethralaya - Tirupati.