Grey Mist Lifting

A Weekly Blog About Lives Changed Through Eye Care

Lynda Cherry, former Vice-President of International Programs

Meet a man who is a father to thousands


As Father’s Day approaches, imagine being a father who is responsible for the wellbeing of tens of thousands of people!

Father Sebastian is the director of Little Flower Hospital.

This, in fact, is the role of Father Sebastian, the director of Little Flower Hospital in Angamaly in the southwestern state of Kerala, India. Beneath his quiet, gentle manner lies a strong and determined leadership that was the guiding force for Little Flower’s growth and sustainability, and the basis of a case study at one of India’s business schools.

First established in 1936, Little Flower’s eye care department opened in 1964. This amazing facility is expanding its resources and services to meet the needs of a region with a population of 35 million people – more than all of Canada!

Little Flower is what we call a tertiary-level care facility – it is a regional centre of excellence that is equipped to treat even the most complicated cases. As such, it plays a major role in health care services in the region including treatment for those most in need and least able to pay.

When I first visited Little Flower in 2004, plans for the new general hospital and ophthalmology tower were in the early stages of development. The old facilities were dark, crowded and in many cases made the smooth, effective flow of activity impossible.

Under the leadership of Father Sebastian, who assumed the director role in 2004, and the support and recommendations of Operation Eyesight, the number of patients screened and surgeries performed has more than doubled.

In 2010, over 18,000 surgeries were performed by the ophthalmologists at Little Flower. The new facilities will add even more services as well as increased capacity.

In the coming year, hospital administration will be working with Operation Eyesight’s India team to provide community outreach to the remote islands of Lakshadweep off the coast of Kerala.

This project will serve as a model of strengthening systems and services in remote areas as well as a collaboration between a non-government hospital (Little Flower), the Indian government and Operation Eyesight.

It also reflects the values of Little Flower and Father Sebastian as well as Operation Eyesight as we are all committed to eradicating avoidable blindness and ensuring access for all.

June 19 is Fathers’ Day. Consider giving a gift in honour of the dad in your life and, by doing so, help parents in India and Africa. See the Gift Guide section of our website.

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