Making her first major decision as an adult, Sayli Patil celebrated her 18th birthday this Friday at her Gorai residence with 50 guests signing a declaration form pledging to donate their eyes after their death. Sayli has been inspired to take up the cause from her uncle Ravindra Patil, a constable with Mumbai police who has motivated around 16,000 people so far to donate their eyes.
Ravindra says he turned to social causes during his college days. He recalls that while studying in a college in Ghatkopar, he spent his evenings collecting money in a small tin box for the relief of those affected by floods and other natural disasters. Ravindra’s social work was not hampered even after he joined the police force as a constable in 2000. Along with two of his friends, Ramakant Mhatre, a private company employee, and Sanjay Kamble, a school peon in Raigad, he started an NGO called TEARS.
“T stands for teaching, E stands for education, A stands for all, R for reliable and S for social work,” says Ravindra, who has managed to convince several police officers, including IPS officers to constabulary towards pledging their eyes. Ravindra himself celebrated his last birthday by filling up 200 forms for eye donation. His wife, his mother and father also signed up for the cause. “I always wanted to do something for the blind. Everyone will die some day. Their organs could be useful for the people who are living and need them,” he says.
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Ravindra and his friends now organise eye donation camps, where he fills forms and gives people their pledge cards. They have organised such camps on occasions like Dahi Handi, Ganeshotsav and even weddings, and with great success. Ravindra says his aim is to rope in family members of donors, so that a person dies, another member in the family can immediately inform the eye bank about the death so the nearest bank can collect the eyes of the deceased.
The constable has also found good support from colleagues, many of whom have contributed to the cause by pledging their eyes and making financial contribution for his NGO. The latest among them is Shrikant Pathak, a deputy commissioner of police in Navi Mumbai’s Crime Branch who recently pledged to donate his eyes.
Ravindra’s father worked with the MTNL and the family stayed in just near the Ghatkopar railway station. “I used to see several blind beggars and wonder how they reached home at night,” he adds.