The fundraiser for Teach For Canada was a success!
Thanks to our generous donors, MSMF was able to donate $10,000 to Teach For Canada.
The acknowledgement letter from Teach For Canada is attached below.
We thank our donors for their generous contribution towards this fundraiser!
I was hired as Executive Director of Help the Aged (Canada) in 1989, the same year that MSMF was established. A few years later, I met Sarma Vishnubhatla who was directing – and continues to direct – MSMF as a volunteer. I was very impressed with the eye care program in Kakinada from the very beginning but saddened by the fact that Chandra Sankurathri’s loss of his family in the 1985 Air India crash was the primary reason for the introduction of the program, which was set up in memory of his wife and two children. What a tragedy!
The primary objective of Help the Aged was to assist poor and destitute elderly persons in developing countries and the cataract removal program seemed to be the perfect match for us. At that time, many cataract surgeries in rural India were completed in “eye camps” with nurses holding flashlights while surgeons removed the cataracts. The main problem with this method was that eye infections occurred frequently. Chandra and Sarma dealt with this problem from the very beginning and spent a great deal of time and energy raising funds to build an eye care hospital in Kakinada. Their medical staff travelled to various villages with a donated bus to pick up the elderly poor who needed cataract surgery. They were transported to the hospital (Srikiran Institute of Ophthalmology) for their surgery and stayed at the hospital overnight, returning home the next day with a bottle of antibiotic eye drops.
Sarma, Chandra and I agreed to submit a three-year funding proposal to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). When I travelled to Kakinada for the first time to draft the proposal, I was pleasantly surprised to observe that ALL cataract patients received intraocular lenses so that eyeglasses would not be necessary. During previous trips to India, I had met many elderly people who had received glasses following their cataract surgeries but I could hardly see their eyes because of all the scratches on their eyeglass lenses. Most of them were farm laborers who had accidentally dropped their glasses on stones while bending over. The lenses installed during surgery solved that problem.
Incredibly, a cataract removal at the Kakinada hospital could be completed for $35(Canadian) including the eye drops and the intraocular lens. When I returned to Ottawa with the completed proposal for 3,500 surgeries per year for a three year period, I was very hopeful that it would be approved by CIDA and that MSMF and Help the Aged could begin raising funds from our Canadian donors to support this project. CIDA grants required that we raise $1 for every $3 contributed by the government. We waited anxiously and were elated to hear that our application was approved!
This project led to 15 years of cataract surgeries sponsored by CIDA, MSMF and Help the Aged. In other words, 52,500 surgeries completed, enough to fill a large football stadium.
When I retired in 2009, I continued to volunteer on MSMF’s Board of Directors, helped with the annual picnic in Ottawa, etc. Looking back at all of the projects I was involved with during my career, this one stands out as being the most cost efficient and the most rewarding. I am very grateful for my involvement with Chandra, Sarma and so many other volunteers in Canada and India!
MSMF has launched a fundraising campaign to support “Teach for Canada” with a funding goal of $5,000.
The campaign ends on 31 December 2020.
“Teach For Canada” (TFC) is a non-profit organization that supports student success by recruiting and developing committed educators in partnership with First Nations. TFC is a community-directed organization and work closely with First Nations partners to co-create TFC’s programs.
Recruit – TFC recruits teachers based on selection criteria designed by community leaders to ensure they have the skills to succeed in a northern context.
Prepare – Teachers participate in an intensive preparation program focused on First Nations histories, cultures, and culturally-responsive pedagogies.
Support – During their first two years in the North, teachers receive personal and professional support and a peer support network to help them thrive in the classroom and community
In 2020-21, Teach For Canada is working with First Nations to help northern schools adapt in light of COVID-19. This will include extending professional development and retention supports to principals and local school staff.
By working with northern First Nations to recruit, prepare, and support committed teachers, TFC can begin to make education more equal.
Education in Canada is a success story. Study after study shows that our public schools are among the best in the world. But high overall quality masks deep inequality. Only 48 percent of First Nations youth living on reserve have a high school diploma. In the North, those numbers are even lower. And, too often, teachers arrive in northern First Nations without the preparation and support they need to succeed—and stay—in the classroom. The twin challenges of teacher supply and turnover compound historical injustice and systemic inequities to produce a statistical education gap between First Nations and non-First Nations communities.
The right kind of teacher can help fill this gap. TFC works with First Nations education leaders, principals, teachers, and many others to recruit and select teachers who have the motivations, aptitude, and fit to be successful in a northern First Nation. Once selected, TFC provides teachers with a 2-3 week community-focused summer preparation program and provide ongoing support during a teacher’s minimum two-year teaching commitment in the North. Inspired by the leadership of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action on Education, TFC teachers emphasize a spirit of reciprocal learning in the classroom and community.
Currently, there are 84 TFC teachers and 20 partner First Nations in Northern Ontario and Manitoba. Teachers have launched student councils, coached sports teams, started music programs, led dance classes, developed school websites, hosted radio shows, organized field trips, run outdoor activities, and more. Their inspirational teaching is increasing student attendance, student engagement, and student achievement.
Please donate and thank you for your generosity!