Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, Jesse Berry, MD, and Co-Chief Resident, Philip Storey, MD, were fortunate enough to spend a week at the Srikiran Institute of Ophthalmology in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, India. Sankurathri Foundation was established by Dr. Chandrasekhar Sankurathri as a memorial to his wife, Manjari Sankurathri, son, Srikiran and daughter, Sarada who were killed in a terrorist bombing of Air India Flight 182 (Kanishka) on 23rd June 1985. The Foundation’s main mission is to empower the poor through better education, eye care and timely help to the needy. Drs. Berry and Storey assisted patients in the clinic, performed various OR procedures, conducted outreach, and enjoyed the local cuisine. Here is the third day of their journey:
Day 3 at Srikiran
Today is another camp and OR day! We started out in the post and pre-op clinic area and the post op patients were joyous with their vision results from the past day. They anxiously waited in line to be seen at the slit lamp and be told what they already knew from their vision — that the surgery went well! Most will rest the day today and then tomorrow be taken home together. We also saw our anxious pre-ops for surgery today. They too patiently waited in line for keratometry, dilation, slit lamp examination, a peri-bulbar block and then surgery. The Hospital here is amazingly efficient at moving patients through and the surgeons simply operate all morning. Srikiran is the only hospital in India that provides 100% free care to poor Indians who cannot pay for services and yet they are given the highest quality of care and treated with the utmost respect. This is a truly special place.
Before lunch there was a tour of the school. The foundation here supports completely free pre-k through high school education for 175 students. They are the most well-behaved, delightful students with great respect for education and their teachers. The educational incentive here is all part of a push towards creating a cycle of giving back to the community in a way that changes the course of poverty in this region. A focus on education, and no obligation by the parents to pay for it, allows these children to enjoy a wide range of experiences they would otherwise not have and gain a true foundation for the future. The children were so excited to have a visitor and to show me how perfectly they wrote English in cursive! Then they all lined up for lunch and before eating blessed their food with a gorgeous chant and then stated their goals for 2016 which included respecting their parents and respecting the nourishment their food gives them by not talking while eating (woah!)
After clinic Hema, Dr. Chandra’s sister, bundled me into a gorgeous sari (!!) and we enjoyed a dinner out with Dr. Avinash who is the main teacher here at the school and his lovely wife and daughter. We ventured into Kakinada which is a city of about one million people in the state of Andhra Pradesh. There are people and dogs and cows and cars and trucks and rickshaws and temples and lights and food stands EVERYWHERE. There is no spot in India it seems where there is not some activity. India is, in a word, kinetic.
Dinner was in the Grand Kakinada by GRT hotel and we were able to try many different southern and northern India dishes all of which were delicious! There were vegetarian options and a wonderful local fish option.
Read about the fourth day of their adventure here
Dr. Jesse Berry is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and Associate Residency Program Director at LAC+USC Medical Center. She is residency and fellowship trained and a member of the Society of Heed Fellows.