Rishikesh is better known to the West as the place where The Beatles went to meet their guru, the Maharishi, in the 1960s. Dr Chandra and Dr Roy were using their personal resources and, with some help from a local Ashram (a religious retreat or monastery), the Parmath Niketan, running free eye clinics from a small surgery within the Ashram.
So VBA was launched in 2011 to support Dr Chandra and Dr Roy and their Australian team who were donating their time and skill to run to these free clinics. Fundraising for the project was predominantly provided through Fiducian Portfolio Services Limited, Indy Singh’s business, and private contributions. It was then approved as a Rotary Australia Worldwide Community Service (RAWCS) project and is now a registered Australian charity.
VBA invested in renovating the operating theatre, providing operating tables, automatic microscopes, sterilizers and a Phaco machine formerly used by Westmead Hospital. Then in December 2011 we sent our first team of 9 Australian surgeons, that included lead surgeons Dr Chandra and Dr Roy, and skilled volunteer anaesthetists and orthoptists. During that first clinic, 700 people received free medical consultation and 180 people received operations that restored their sight.
VBA still operates in Rishikesh, led by Dr Chandra and Dr Roy, and also offers the refurbished facilities to local eye surgeons we have worked with in our other Indian clinics, who are willing to volunteer their time to also help the helpless in Rishikesh.