Nyan Pendyala is a fourteen-year-old from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania whose name means vision in Sanskrit. Nyan fundraised for ORBIS when he was nine because of ORBIS’S sight saving cause and continues to support the work of ORBIS.
One question I am asked when discussing my fundraiser for ORBIS is “How in the world does a four-year-old even contemplate building an eye care center in India?” Well the answer is quite simple: while my dad was flipping through ORBIS’s annual report, I saw a photo of Ronald McDonald opening a pediatric eye care center in New Delhi. As any four-year-old would, I wanted to do what the clown on my “happy meal” box was doing and so I told my dad that I wanted to open a pediatric eye care center in my mom’s hometown of Hyderabad. My dad, looking quite stunned, let it sit for a few days and then upon further requests picked up the phone and called ORBIS. After that phone call, we continued to donate to ORBIS, but the idea of opening an eye care center was still a dream of ours.
Then in 2007, when I was eight, ORBIS had a vision of opening fifty pediatric eye care centers in India and we were able to fundraise for one in Chennai, my dad’s hometown. In 2010, $53,545 later, our fundraising concluded and in that same summer we visited the center while visiting relatives in India. The center was a wing in the Sankara Nethralaya Eye Hospital and was fully equipped with state-of–the-art surgical equipment and screening tools. Today, the center has screened 172,000 children and performed 10,533 surgeries. It has also offered fellowships to 15 ophthalmologists in pediatric ophthalmology and 11 nurses in pediatric nursing. Visiting the center was one of the coolest experiences ever. The center was not only a treatment center, but also a training center for rural and local doctors to learn to treat blinding eye diseases at their early stages. I believe that the training center is the most important part of what my family and I contributed to because eventually it will reduce the number of people who could be blinded by diseases.
This now brings to me to the latest chapter in my involvement with ORBIS: volunteering at the ORBIS office for a week. After 2010, my ORBIS work ceased for the next three years and now entering high school and in need of volunteer hours, I decided that there was no better place to volunteer than at ORBIS. Recently, I spent the week at ORBIS’s New York office helping them with filing; writing thank you notes to donors and sending get well soon cards to ORBIS patients. Through all these experiences, I have witnessed the joy on a child’s face when they are able to see their family, friends and the world clearly, thanks to ORBIS and all of their supporters.