“Intelligence and capability are not enough. There must be the joy of doing something beautiful.” -Dr. V

Apologies in advance for bombarding you with updates from Aravind, but as long as we are the CASI interns with the most reliable Internet access, we have no excuse but to overwhelm you with our daily happenings.

As Sindhu described in her latest post, since we arrived, we have been busy designing a series of patient education posters to be displayed in the eight Aravind outpatient hospitals.  Many of the patients go through the check-up process blindly (no pun intended), without knowing what each of the tests is for and what to expect; furthermore, as we found out through shadowing patients, many of them don’t care to know so long as they receive a diagnosis and treatment at the end.  So the purpose of this particular project is to encourage them to learn about the processes they undergo, and in a broader sense, to take ownership of their own health and welfare. 

We went back after lunch to shadow some patients as they went through the process step-by-step.  Sindhu, whose family is from Chennai in Tamil Nadu and speaks Tamil fluently, spoke with the patients and translated for Sam and me.  From the shadowing, we learned that the patients don’t really care to know what goes on in each step due to their extreme trust and respect for the medical institution here.  They also don’t mind waiting as long as it ensures they receive high-quality care.  The patients, particularly rural patients, view healthcare as a privilege, not necessarily a right, and feel blessed for simply the opportunity to be seen by a doctor.  We also spoke with some doctors and nurses who reiterated the fact that patients don’t know much about what they go through, but how important it is that they do.

Given this point of view, we realized that if we were to convince the patients to read the posters and inform themselves, these posters would have to be extremely visually appealing and convey the information in a fun and relatable way.  After doing our research and writing up the content for the posters, we began to brainstorm designs.  I developed a character to star in them, which we named Darshan (or Vision) the Elephant, .  The posters would be in the style of a Kollywood (the Bollywood industry in Tamil Nadu) movie poster, complete with the dramatic flair and bright flashy colors found in these posters plastered around the city.  Unfortunately, none of our artistic skills are quite up to par to execute this, so we hired an artist to bring our concept to life.  We spoke with him for the first time on Saturday to discuss our vision (eyesight-related puns are far too ubiquitous), and met up with him again on Monday with photographs of each process and more detailed explanations of what we want each image to look like.  He said it should take him about 4-5 days to generate his initial sketches, so now we’re about to start talking about our next project to get started in the meantime as we wait for the initial sketches from the artist.  After the sketches are made, we will have to finalize them, bring them to graphics to be digitized, and then compile the images and information into our actual posters.

During the downtime that we’ve had, we have tried to explore Aravind as much as we can.  We work in the Lions Aravind  Institute of Community Ophthalmology (LAICO) building, which hosts many workshops, training classes, and conferences.  We attended the first session of a month-long social marketing and outreach class for eye camp organizers and doctors, and went on a tour of the outpatient and inpatient blocks for government officials.  Of course, it’s amazing to see and to work at this incredible organization.  The hospital and organization is run SO efficiently and everyone is so invested and passionate in what they do.  I’m hoping to receive some clarity in my career goals as a result of this internship, and especially crossing my fingers that I won’t come out of this wanting to be an eye doctor since I just decided against medicine…but, I’ll keep you posted.

‘Til next time,


One thought on ““Intelligence and capability are not enough. There must be the joy of doing something beautiful.” -Dr. V

  1. I love the title of this blog post! I’m curious, do you think this is why Aravind is so successful? I hear Dr. V is quite the inspiration.Also, very interesting to learn how differently people view healthcare. I’m sure it makes patients in India much more patient (no pun intended 🙂 and easy to work with than here in the US!

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About Christina Wu

Graduated in 2014 with a B.A. in Health & Societies at the University of Pennsylvania. Interned at Aravind Eye Care System in Madurai, Tamilnadu in summer of 2012. Awarded a 2014-15 Fulbright fellowship in China to conduct research on dementia care in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.