Hi everyone! My name is Camilo Toro and I’m a rising senior in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in the Biological Basis of Behavior and minoring in Healthcare Management and Chemistry. Although my studies might define me on paper, my true passions lie in investing random scientific research (from the physical explanations of consciousness to gravitational waves in space), learning different languages and cultures, discovering new music, and getting too stressed about FC Barcelona’s upcoming fixtures. For some reason I have a compulsive need to explore new places, so I am beyond excited to head to Madurai, India this summer to work at Aravind Eye Care Systems for 10 weeks.
This will actually be my second time to India. My first time in India was in 2010, when I went on a school trip to volunteer at a plastic surgery hospital in Varanasi associated with Smile Train, a nonprofit that provides free cleft lip/palate surgeries to those in need. That trip to Varanasi sparked my interest in healthcare and exposed me to a completely new perspective on the role of equity in health treatments and access. For this reason, it is even more fitting that I will be returning to India to work at Aravind in Madurai, where I will have the opportunity to conduct my own research on quality of life in patients with rare eye conditions.
Although Madurai is home to the founding hospital, it is just one part of a network of eye care centers in India that forms the world’s largest and most productive eye-care service group. Since 1976, Aravind has treated over 40 million patients and performed over 4 million surgeries, in large part due to its outreach efforts, efficient operating systems, and internal supply chain. Besides its incredible business model, what most attracted me to Aravind was its mission to eradicate needless blindness through by developing a health system that delivers high-quality affordable care to people of all socioeconomic classes.
This will be my first experience living and working in a place so drastically different from where I live and study, but I can’t wait to face the challenges ahead. I am also excited to learn more about Indian culture (but already giving up on learning Tamil in 10 weeks), travel to new destinations, and eat everything in sight.
Everyone seems to make a joke about how hot it will be, but I have already been in Delhi for a few days and survived trekking the Agra Fort in 115-degree weather, so its all uphill from here…plus there is nothing worse than winter. I’ll have more soon!