Startup of Kerala teens opens doors of sight to visually impaired

The trio Prarthana A Anup, Vandana Srinivasan and S Netraa are all Class XI students of Girinagar Bhavan’s Vidya Mandir.
(From left) Prarthana A Anup, Vandana Srinivasan, S Netraa.
(From left) Prarthana A Anup, Vandana Srinivasan, S Netraa.Express

KOCHI : The future belongs to children. And this is a fact that a team of 15-year-olds is proving true. This team has founded a social startup that aims to get people to pledge their eyes to help the visually impaired regain their sight and thereby enjoy the beautiful world. The trio Prarthana A Anup, Vandana Srinivasan and S Netraa are all Class XI students of Girinagar Bhavan’s Vidya Mandir.

But what led these youngsters to found a startup? “It all happened around two years ago,” says Vandana, one of the founders.

As part of the hobby that she picked up during the lockdown period, Vandana used to make paintings based on themes of important international days like World Heart Day and Environment Day. “So I painted a poster on International Braille Day and decided to gift it to Giridhar Eye Hospital. There I met with Dr Giridhar and got talking with him on the topic of eye donation,” she says.

The talk with Dr Giridhar was an eye-opener for the youngster who realised that the difference between demand and supply statistics was huge.

“I was told that around 1.6 million patients are waiting for a transplant. And the waiting list is growing by the day. I realised that the problem could be solved if people are made aware of the importance of eye donation,” says Vandana. So the youngster set out to spread awareness about eye donation.

“For two years I conducted campaigns. I did a campaign at the High Court on World Sight Day. I also met up with the district collector and the Leader of the Opposition in the assembly seeking their support for the venture,” says Vandana. But she could get only 500 people to pledge their eyes. “And these people were those who sponsored our campaigns,” she adds.

It was then that I decided to start a blog with my friends, says Vandana. “We set up a social startup platform called Chasing Dreams. The platform facilitates eye donation and makes it easy to register oneself as a donor,” she says.

All you have to do is send an SMS to the number 7039. “Type in Vision Name Location and send it to the aforesaid number. You get a message back with a link and a certificate,” she adds.

However, according to the youngster, the response is very low.

“I am to get at least one lakh pledges,” says the youngster who has been conducting talks at hospitals and conferences exhorting people to come forward and help light up the lives of those who live in darkness.

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