Whilst taking a stroll in Varanasi the other day , I came across an old man, sitting in a wooden hut, six feet by six, all alone with minimal possessions and very sad. Being harassed by beggars is an everyday occurance, but for some reason or another , this old man attracted my attention.
I looked him in the eye and gave him a 50 rupee note. Looking back at me in a non emotional, yet totally human manner , he started to cry. The thought “God can be found in the tears of the poor” flashed into my mind and it was only then that the realisation of my true purpose in setting up and maintaining Vision Varanasi came into my consciousness.
Yes, it`s so easy to get lost in the nuts and bolts, losing the significance of the totality of what one is really about.
From a simple idea about a year or so ago has sprung up a four storey building on the banks of the river Ganges at Samneghat, Varanasi, which will provide free eyecare to the very poor and needy, wherever they are from, allowing them to experience good vision for the first time in many a long year. They will be able to experience not only the clarity of this world in it`s magnificence, but also at a location right in the spiritual heart of the Hindu religion.
Thanks to the generosity of my good friends Justin, Teifion and Francine Salisbury, the hospital is virtually fully funded for this year and should be completed by April 2013.They are indeed big hearted people who expect nothing in return.( A rare quality indeed).
On the ground floor, there will be about 1100 square feet of space, allowing those who so wish, to stay for a few days out of the harsh weather whilst waiting for treatment. There will be toilet and cooking facilities. This area will also be used to provide shelter during the hot summer months for anyone who may be in danger of distress, especially the aged and infirm.
The first floor will have a well lit reception area and a consultation room, as well as a small ward for post operative patients who will need some extra recovery time before returning to their villages.
The second floor will have a state of the art and totally sterile operating theatre, which will initially provide cataract surgery, which may expand to further ophthalmological treatment in the future. Adjacently ,there will be an out patient department for all pre and post operative investigation. A patient changing room and toilet area will also be located on that floor ,completely away from the clinical areas. Another small room where further care and instruction will be given completes this floor.
On the third floor there will be an apartment which can be used by visiting surgeons etc. etc.
The actual building is being designed with aesthetics in mind, really with regard to the lack of high quality architecture in the city of Varanasi. The design will principally be of Mughal style and there will be lush and beautiful landscaping, which, hopefully will give great enjoyment to all who may visit.(especially if you can actually see it).
So that`s about it for now and updates will follow over time.
A special thanks to the Aghor Foundation is in order,as they have given me so much help and support over the years,with an extra special thanks to Girish Sharma( my soul mate in this project),and to my beloved wife and children without whose patience and entheusiasm our spark would not be burning so brightly.
I would also like to thank all those who have taken an interest in Vision Varanasi and it is my heartfelt wish that they will be able to see the blossoming of a most beautiful and magnificent flower in the not too distant future.