K.Selvaraj is a man with a mission, to restore vision to the visually impaired, by propagating the cause of eye donation and motivating people toward it.
“People call me up on a regular basis, saying that there has been a death and the family is willing to donate the eyes of the deceased,” says Selvaraj.
Till date, he has collected 768 pairs of eyes and restored vision to 1,536 visually impaired persons.
He is actively involved in restoring vision to visually impaired and also undertakes various welfare measures to help them.
Awarded the title of Tiruchi district’s honorary grief counsellor and eye donation motivator in 2010, Selvaraj’s journey to become what he is today has not been an easy one.
Selvaraj joined BHEL Tiruchi in 1981 as an electrician. He led a normal life till one fateful day in 1993, when he watched a documentary on the visually challenged on TV. It touched him deeply, inspiring Selvaraj to reach out to the blind.
He took the first step when he learnt of a colleague’s death. When he asked for their consent to eye donation, he was rebuked by them. It took a lot of calm talk and convincing for them to relent.
As months passed, Selvaraj visited every home when he learnt of a death and continued his efforts in spite of being rebuffed. He had to patiently convince them that donating eyes can brighten a visually impaired person’s life.
“I stood my ground as I was determined to bring light to the life of sightless persons,” he said.
After continued attempts, Joseph Eye Hospital Eye Bank recognised his contribution and authorised Selvaraj as a voluntary eye donation motivator, to receive eyes from donors in and around Tiruchi district for corneal transplants.
In 1994, Selvaraj launched a campaign to create awareness about eye donation among the public.
“I faced a lot of problems for a few years, when I realised that I must diversify into other services as well, so that people understood that I am doing social service,” he says.
Gradually, his efforts paid off and people steadily began showing more interest in eye donation. Media support soon followed and helped in creating acceptance among the general public.
In 1998, he was honoured by Lions Club of Tiruverumbur who offered him an honorary membership in the club.
He was also elected as management committee member of the Indian Red Cross Society. In 2002, he was honoured by BHEL with the ‘BHEL Excel Award’ in recognition of his contribution to the welfare of the visually impaired.
In 2007, he received the Best Social Worker award with a gold medal from the government of Tamil Nadu for his services. Last year he was made the co-ambassador for ‘Vision to all-BHEL’s Call’, social eye donation campaign launched by BHEL.
Through these years, his family was instrumental in supporting him. “My wife Santhamani has been a pillar of support throughout. She took care of my children and never complained when I couldn’t devote enough time for my family. Without her support I could have never been successful,” says Selvaraj.