By Mike Kinney
Ven. Thupten Donyo, director of the Gyuto Foundation, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery located in East Richmond Heights, is fundraising to bring a vision care camp to rural areas of India this coming November. He is additionally inviting community members to register for a Buddhist Pilgrimage to India during the same month, the first time in six year’s he’s held the Pilgrimage.
Donyo, who started the Children’s Foundation Vision Care Camp on the Dalai Lama’s advice when His Holiness visited San Francisco in 2007, said elderly Tibetans and Indians living in India recently shared with him that they are in need of basic vision care.
In response, he aims to raise $25,000 to hold vision health camps led by a group of local optometrists in rural areas and hospitals. Donyo thanked Mr. Thomas Nazario and his organization The Forgotten International for agreeing to donate several hundred pairs of reading glasses for the Vision Care Camp 2023.
“My goal is to help 500 or more people with poor vision receive the vision care they need,” Donyo said. “People in remote areas require treatments such as cataract removal surgery. We will be offering free surgery and distributing free reading glasses to as many as 1,000 people.”
West Contra Costa County communities are encouraged to support this effort.
“We are looking for sponsors to help cover the cost of treatment,” Donyo said. “We estimate $50 per person will cover the cost of surgery, glasses, fees going to the doctors and nurses, and other related expenses,” Donyo said.
Donations supporting the Vision Care Camp can be made at this GoFundMe link.
The public is asked to not donate glasses, as monetary donations will allow them to purchase the number and type required.
Prior to holding the vision care camps, Donyo will lead a group of 10 to 20 people on a Buddhist Pilgrimage to India from Nov. 6-18, also called a charity tour. Registration for the tour is now open.
Donyo is no stranger to gathering folks from the U.S. to do good works overseas. Last October, Donyo led a group of ten friends for a charity program to the Himalayan regions of Nepal.
They spent a week on the foothills of Mt. Everest and donated 1,000 shoes and 400 school uniforms, school supplies, and sports equipment to 14 different schools in the surrounding mountain areas of Nepal. The group also organized a three-day medical camp with help from eight local doctors and nurses that provided nearly 600 patients with free medicines.
“We were told by the villagers how grateful they were to have the medical camp in their village and requested to return to provide more charity programs,” Donyo said. “We left promising to organize additional health care and charity programs soon.”
Donyo added the project was made possible “through the kindness of donors like you,” Donyo said.
“Those who cannot join the pilgrimage can still help us with your donations toward the Vision Care Camp through our GoFundMe for 2023,” he said. “Donations of all sizes are greatly appreciated. It is our dream to help many Himalayan children in their continuing education and also all those who are in need of basic health care. A documentary film of our past charity trip may be viewed here.”