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 is our Director of Giving at TOMS, who brings to our family a wealth of knowledge about how the programs we support are making an impact and how we can work to continually do more and batter. Last week she described some lessons learned and reinforced while in India visiting one of our Sight Giving Partners, Aravind Eye Care System. Here, she elaborates on the experience…
In visiting this pioneer in the sustainable eye care field, I was struck by how much of the Aravind founding team from the 1970s is still hard at work there, along with their children and even grandchildren! These people are totally committed to their work, and it shows.
And, what was clear to me is that this organization is hungry: they never stop learning and growing. Once they’ve solved a problem, they add three more to take its place, and teach their solutions to the hospitals they mentor. This kind of relentless desire to improve their own work, and in turn improve lives, communities, and whole economies, is what separates the good from the truly great.
I also realized that If I ever need serious eye treatment, I am going to Aravind. I have never before — in any hospital — seen such a high commitment to professionalism, quality, use of technology and great patient outcomes. I want those guys operating on me.
And finally, Aravind Eye Care System strives to impact lives not only through their eye care services but through their own business practices. A tour of Aravind’s various facilities will bring you face-to‐face with countless young women working across accounting, patient services, clinical care and housekeeping. Why? Aravind recruits young, female high school graduates from neighboring villages. They cover the costs for living and training expenses for up to 18 months while these women — whose job prospects would otherwise have been very limited — learn skills in a variety of Aravind’s business functions. These young women then enter well-‐paying, professional, highly regarded jobs, and have upward mobility opportunities within Aravind.
At TOMS, we consider our Giving to work best when it is a small and carefully crafted part of much bigger solutions. Our shoes work best when integrated into programs with big goals, like eradicating hookworm or increasing school enrollment and attendance. Our Sight Giving, made possible by our amazing TOMS supporters and their Eyewear purchases, is most powerful when it is channeled to organizations that are truly looking at the big picture.
Aravind (via its training and mentoring arm, called LAICO) uses our support to support other eye hospitals, to help them in their journey to reach more patients, train more staff and spread the word in underserved communities about the amazing impacts high-quality eye care can have. It is part of Aravind’s relentless drive to see the whole world have access to quality, affordable eye care that is delivered by local professionals. They’re not going to stop until this happens, and it’s a real honor for us to be a small part of that incredible journey.
**Special thanks to our lead Sight Giving Partner, Seva Foundation, who are an important part of TOMS’ relationship with Aravind, and joined me on my trip to Madurai.