More on Vision: Father, Researcher, and Humanitarian Pawan Sinha

Visual neuroscientist Pawan Sinha researches how our brains interpret what our eyes see — and uses that research to give blind children the gift of sight with Project Prakash.  This talk at TED is touching, inspiring, and absolutely fascinating.

The Goodfight 10,000: Buy a Record, Save a Life!

The Goodfight, a band from Atlanta, GA, announced that they would give away 100% of the revenue generated by their new record “Good & Evil” towards providing people with access to clean water through the work of charity: water.   Charity:water is involved in building wells and training nationals to maintain those wells on 5 continents, in some of the most desperate places on earth. Find out how they are fixing the problem at charitywater.

Heroes and Saints

Can we each be a hero or a saint, even in some small way, however briefly, however “small scale”?   I believe that we can.   No matter what scale they occur at, our efforts are important.

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“The hero is the one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light.”
~ Felix Adler

Dr. James Orbinski

Dr. Orbinski

I am currently reading James Orbinski’s “An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-first Century” and am having trouble putting it down. Orbinski is one of the founders of the Canadian branch of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders/MSF); in 1994 he served as Chef de Mission for MSF in Kigali, Rwanda during the horrific civil war and genocide.   As president of MSF, the doctor and humanitarian accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on their behalf in 1999; his remarkable Nobel Lecture is available here.

One can do a search at iTunes for “James Orbinski” and listen to Dr. Orbinski “In Conversation with Alan Gregg” about “An Imperfect Offering”  — there is a choice of audio or video.

CBC’s “Sunday” interviewed Dr. Orbinski about his new book; watch it here. (sorry, CBC has removed this wonderful interview, and the “Sunday” site)

This link will take you to a radio interview with James Orbinski on CBC’s “Sounds Like Canada”. (apologies: sadly , it seems that CBC has removed the “Sounds Like Canada” web page and its interviews, as well as the podcasts available at iTunes).

CBC’s documentary, “Evil Revisited”, was awarded the 2005 Canadian Radio Television News Directors Association Award. Dr. Orbinski returns to Rwanda with CBC journalist Sasa Petricic in this incredibly moving piece.  (note:  CBC has also removed this excellent documentary about one of Canada’s most remarkable citizens; thank you to the kind commenter — Mr. Petricic? —  who provided the Vimeo link for “Evil Revisited”!)

George Stroumboulopoulos interviewed Dr. Orbinski on CBC’s “The Hour”; watch it here. (believe it or not, CBC has removed this as well!)

Dr Orbinski is one of the founders of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, a not-for-profit pharmaceutical research and development entity focused on the diseases of the South. He recently co-founded Dignitas, an organization focused on community based treatment, care and prevention of HIV in the developing world.


“An Imperfect Offering”, and this man speak to me on a very deep level. Each of us is responsible for each other, and each of us needs to act. As Vikram Seth so eloquently puts it in his book, “Two Lives: a Memoir”:

“May we see that we could have been born as each other.”

Update: CTV’s “W5” aired “To Hell and Back: helping the world’s most desperate/Charity’s Not Enough”, on Saturday, April 3, 2010.  This interview with Dr. Orbinski, as well as a written article is available at the W5 web site.  Dr. Orbinski talks about his experiences, and drives home the idea that charity must only be a starting point — that it is not a substitute for public policy in making necessary change in our world.

Update: October 2010, CTV’s Canada AM has a feature clip/interview with Dr. Orbinski in its “Transformational Canadians” series, produced in conjunction with the Globe and Mail and La Presse.


Women fighting a “war on terror”:

Quigley and Retik in Afghanistan.
Quigley and Retik

Patricia Quigley and Susan Retik are two American mothers who were widowed on 9/11. The two women have founded an organization “Beyond the 11th” to help widows and their families in Afghanistan.

“The situation for widows in Afghanistan is desperate. While the collapse of the Taliban has resulted in general improvement in the lives of women and girls, these new opportunities are still out of reach to the Afghan widows who lost their only means of support. Illiterate and unskilled, they struggle to provide the most basic of needs – shelter, food, and clothing – for their families. International relief organizations estimate that in Kabul alone, there are 30,000 – 50,000 widows, struggling to support an average of five children on less than $16 per month. In other parts of the country, the situation is even worse.”

Learn about the documentary made about these women, and listen to them speak about why they are doing this, here: Beyond the 11th: a Principle Pictures documentary