Special-edition, Congolese-inspired TOMS Shoes
We're teaming up with Giving Partner Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), an advocacy and grant-making organization founded by Ben Affleck, on two Congolese-inspired designs with an additional give. Read More >>
TOMS x charity: water - An Eyewer collaboration
TOMS and charity: water, an organization founded in 2006 (like TOMS!) that’s dedicated to to helping bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations, join forces for the first-ever TOMS Eyewear collab! Read More >>
Giving TOMS Shoes in the DRC
Founded by Ben Affleck in 2010, ECI is an advocacy and grant-making organization that works with and for the people of DRC, the third most populous country in Africa, and one that struggled under a cycle of violence for nearly 20 years – particularly in the east. Read More >>
Jessica Shortall, TOMS Director of Giving, joined the TOMS family in 2009. She recently returned from a trip to Madurai, India, where she had the opportunity to visit the Aravind Eye Care System with our lead Sight Giving Partner, Seva Foundation. Here, she’s delving into the details about that trip…
One of the best parts about my job as Director of Giving at TOMS is that I sometimes get to fulfill long‐held nerd dreams in the world of social impact. One of these dreams came true this Fall when I had the opportunity to visit the world‐famous Aravind Eye Care System in India. Let me explain:
Aravind was founded in 1976 as an 11‐bed charitable eye hospital. Today it boasts a profitable network of eye hospitals, clinics and rural vision centers across Tamil Nadu, the southernmost state in India, which is home to more than 70 million people (more than the population of the UK, or almost double the population of California!). Aravind’s six main hospitals each see up to 2,000 patients a day, and Aravind is considered to be the largest single provider of eye care in the world.
Aravind’s system provides holistic eye care — from various kinds of medical treatments and surgeries to prescription glasses and more — and maintains its profitability while serving 60‐70 percent of its patients at reduced or totally free rates. This model allows Aravind to reach and change the lives of some of the poorest visually impaired people in the region, without depending on outside donors..
Before I go on, you might be asking yourself, “If it’s profitable, why does Aravind need TOMS and its Eyewear customers to help give sight to its patients?” The short answer is, they don’t. But Aravind mentors hundreds of smaller eye hospitals around the world that still do need outside support to do their work. Aravind uses TOMS’ support to help those hospitals provide more eye care solutions to very poor patients.
But back to the fulfillment of my nerdy dream: Aravind is the mother ship of the sustainable eye care movement. All of TOMS’ Sight Giving Partners around the world have learned from and modeled themselves after Aravind in some way. Going there is like going back to beginning and seeing how it all began.
And what I saw and learned blew me away.
Head back to the TOMS Blog next week –- same time -‐ to read more about what Jessica learned and saw during her trip to India on her visit with Aravind Eye Care. To learn more about how TOMS helps give sight with our incredible partners, click here.