Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Making a Contribution

Today's idea for making a contribution is from Sharon Eakes, whose Fresh Views monthly column focuses on a single topic, relates it to one of the five disciplines of a learning community, and offers a coaching tip and a follow-up telegathering. I love her column; it's always very positive and uplifting. (To subscribe, go here.) Rather than paraphrase Sharon I'll just repurpose her text here:

The best story I’ve heard lately about making a contribution comes from Nyan Pendyala, age 9. He and his 6 year old sister Lehka started the Kids for Sight Project. They’re working with ORBIS International, a charity that has been helping prevent blindness worldwide for 25 years. I interviewed Nyan for this Fresh Views, asking first how he got involved in this project.

“Well,” he said, “I stopped my dad when he was flipping through a newsletter from ORBIS International and I saw a picture of Ronald McDonald. I wanted to know what Ronald McDonald was doing there. I found out he was helping keep kids from becoming blind by building an eye hospital in New Delhi. I said, ‘I should help with that!’”

“Try this,” Nyan said to me. “Close your eyes for 20 seconds. How does it feel? Scary? That’s how a blind kid feels. I really wanted to help, so I asked my friends to donate to ORBIS instead of bringing presents to my birthday party. My dad and I called ORBIS and told them how I’d raised money for them. Because I was the first kid they knew of to raise money at a birthday party, they invited me to visit them. Their office is in New York city so we went there, and they helped me choose the goal of a pediatric eye care center and training facility in Chennai, a poor town where my dad was born and my grandparents still live.”

To my question about what he’s done since then to raise money, Nyan said, “The ORBIS people put us on their website. We made postcards and I’ve given them to all my family and friends and my parents’ friends. I gave a speech to 80 people and it was easy. Now I’m trying to find connectors, people with lots of friends. If I can inspire connectors, they will inspire lots of other people and I can help the kids faster. Because you know what? If you can catch an eye problem early, the kid doesn’t get blind.”

As I talked with Nyan, I was struck by how animated he was, how happy. I asked him how this project made him feel. “Really good!” was his intense response.

If you’d like to donate, just go to Or pass this story on, in some low-impact-on-the-internet way like posting on a blog, to let other people know about it.

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