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COMMUNITY | News in Brief: January 2010

Cupertino Rotary Visits Sankara Eye Hospitals | Washington Leadership Program Accepting Applicants | GOPIO Convention | Heart Health | Cricket Tour | Child Development

Cupertino Rotary Visits Sankara Eye Hospitals

The Rotary Club of Cupertino recently concluded a two-week-long visit to India and to the Sankara Eye Hospitals in Anand (Gujarat), Bangalore and Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu), where they viewed first hand the humanitarian work being done to treat the rural poor afflicted with preventable and curable blindness, according to a press release.

“For most of the eight-member team, this was the first visit to India and the visitors came away impressed with the scale and quality of the work done by Sankara Eye Care Institutions in conducting the Gift of Vision rural outreach programs,” the release said. “Each community hospital, built and operated entirely through donated funds and set up to become self-sustaining, provides free eye care, including free eye surgeries, to poor patients who have otherwise no recourse for their treatable ailments.”

SECI runs eight hospitals and performs close to 100,000 surgeries annually. It is now building another hospital in Ludhiana, Punjab and one more in U.P.

At each of the three Sankara Eye Hospitals visited, the Rotary team was able to view the ongoing treatment of the free patients, including surgical operations in progress and the compassionate care provided before and after surgery. They also visited an eye camp at a local village near Bangalore, distributed eye-glasses and quilts to children in the pediatric ward.

Since 2007, RC Cupertino has collaborated with the RCs in India and other RCs in the Bay Area to provide poor patients in rural India access to free eye care at the Sankara Eye Hospitals. Through three separate matching grants, RC Cupertino has provided three 60-seat buses to transport patients from the rural villages to the hospitals for treatment. These buses have been lifelines for the free patients. Within 10 months of inauguration, the Bangalore Hospital Rotary Bus had served over 21,000 patients, of which 6,600 were provided free eye surgeries. In Coimbatore, the visiting team inaugurated another 60-seat Bus made possible by a Matching Grant of approx. $37,000. 


Washington Leadership Program Accepting Applicants

The Washington Leadership Program has announced that it is accepting applications from high-potential South Asian college students for the 2010 summer leadership program scheduled to take place from June 12, 2010 to August 6, 2010.

The WLP cultivates the South Asian American community's next generation of leaders by placing them in Congressional offices for eight-week summer internships and a structured leadership training curriculum.  The students gain a firsthand view of the process behind creating tangible change in America. Applications are available online at www.thewlp.com. The deadline for submitting applications is Feb. 8.

The WLP is a new nonprofit organization founded in memory of the late publisher-philanthropist Gopal Raju by alumni of Raju's Capitol Hill internship program. The new program is very similar to the original and succeeded in its inaugural year in placing five promising students in Democratic and Republican congressional offices for the summer of 2009.

All students who are either U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents are encouraged to apply. Selection to the WLP is highly competitive and not limited to students pursuing majors in social sciences. The backgrounds of past participants have ranged from medical school to art and social work. Interns will receive a total stipend of $1,500 and will be required to complete 2-3 short writing assignments during the internship.

The WLP has over 180 alumni who have interned for notable elected officials  including Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., former Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn.,  and former Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-La. The original program built  a strong reputation on both the Hill and in the community and continues to receive favorable reviews from former participants.  Former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO) called the WLP "the best program of its kind on the Hill."  The 2009 program received generous support from alumni, the community-at-large, and community organizations and corporations such as the Asian American Hotel Owners' Association and Landis-Gyr.


GOPIO Convention

The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin has scheduled its Convention 2010 in New Delhi Jan. 6 at the Ashoka Hotel immediately preceding Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2010. The conference will be formally inaugurated Jan. 6 at the beginning of the GOPIO Convention 2010.

On Jan. 6,  GOPIO has planned an all day conference comprising three sessions as follows: “India's Emerging Economy and The Diaspora”; “Family Issues in the Global Indian Diaspora”; and “Enhancing Intra-Connectivity and Liaison with the Global Indian Diaspora.”

Keynote speakers for the three sessions will be Lord Meghnad Desai (House of Lords, U.K.), Lord Navneet Dholakia (House of Lords, U.K.), and Lord Bhikhu Parekh (House of Lords, U.K.), respectively. Other prominent speakers who are quite experienced on the topics will make presentations on the sub-themes.

Since its inception in 1989, GOPIO has been organizing conferences and conventions in different parts of the world to mobilize the global NRI/PIO community. During the last few years alone, GOPIO has organized ten international conferences. Besides providing a globally recognized platform for dialogue and discussion to the worldwide Indian Diaspora, GOPIO’s conferences and conventions continue to help bring the Indian diaspora closer to India and strengthen the bonds between India and the globally spread Diaspora.

The convention in Chennai on January 6-7, 2008 and GOPIO’s 20th Anniversary Convention in New York Aug. 21-23, 2009 are examples of GOPIO’s continuing efforts to mobilize the global Indian community and facilitate their networking.

On Jan. 6 evening, GOPIO will hold it Annual Community Service Awards Banquet.

GOPIO community service awards shall be presented at the banquet and will be presided over by Honorable Vayalar Ravi, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs.

The awardees for this year include Rajen Ramnath (The Netherlands); Datuk Vinod Sekhar (Malaysia); Lachmandas Pagarani (Dubai, UAE); Dr. Prabhakar (now living in Kerala, India); Ramesh Gupta (U.S.); and Special Awards to Dr Jagat Motwani (U.S.) and Issac John (Dubai).


Heart Health

The Mynt, a San Jose, Calif.-based Indian restaurant, and The South Asian Heart Center at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, Calif., are partnering to promote heart-healthy eating.

Just in time for the holidays, it is the latest initiative in a series of community partnerships aimed at combating the epidemic of heart disease among South Asians. Not only is the restaurant providing more heart-healthy versions of many popular menu items, but its owners and staff also are enrolling in the center’s program, which identifies specific risk factors, and helps participants manage and mitigate their risk through education, nutrition counseling, lifestyle recommendations, and case-managed follow-up. The center will screen the restaurant’s employees at its cost.

“This takes our HEARTier Choices program to a deeper level,” said Ashish Mathur, executive director of the center. “Because the owners and restaurant workers will be experiencing our program firsthand, they are likely to have a much deeper understanding of the important role nutrition plays in the issue of heart health--and a stronger commitment to promoting healthy menu items in the restaurant.”

Through its partnership with the San Jose State University Department of Nutrition, the South Asian Heart Center had a number of The Mynt’s menu items analyzed, and then recommended changes to reduce or replace unhealthy ingredients and cooking methods.

“There are many ways you can adjust a recipe to make it healthy without making it boring or bland,” said Nancy K. Bugwadia, MS, RD, CNSC, assistant director at Regional Medical Center of San Jose who helps the South Asian Heart Center develop such nutrition-focused partnerships. “All of these techniques work in your home kitchen, as well. For example, you can stop using butter, replace regular yogurt with non-fat yogurt in marinades, significantly cut the amount of oil in each dish and whenever possible, replace plain basmati with brown rice.”


Cricket Tour

Cupertino, Calif.-based California Cricket Academy in partnership with U.S. Cricket Academy, N.J. is sending an Under-16 team to India Dec. 20-31, 2009.

CCA has a deep relationship with cricket associations in India, including BCCI, and Gujarat, Saurashtra, and Baroda cricket associations and their constituent district bodies. This relationship, nurtured over several years has been built on a series of collaborations. Coaches from these associations have spent considerable time with CCA in California identifying and building local talent. CCA in turn has for the past four years, sent teams to India to provide these lads with an opportunity to play against and compete with some of the best junior teams of India.

“This year trip is a special one”, tour chair Hemant Buch, who is also Western region USA cricket associations chairman, says. “Players are traveling on their own with support staff entirely from India.  We have also hired services of sports intelligence company, sports mechanics which serves BCCI and other national teams. A video analyst from sports mechanics will travel with the team. Every night the video scorecard will be updated on the CCA web site www.calcricket.org India Page.”

In addition to the video analyst, coach Amit Buch, National Cricket Academy specialized bowling coach Chetan Mankad, a physio and team manager will travel with the team. 

“This year we also plan to go to Rajkot and play at three international stadiums during the tour,” he added.  “We are thankful to our new and long term sponsors for their enormous support which made this tour possible. The team is loaded with players who have represented the U.S. at the junior level and is very well balanced. Eight players are from California Cricket Academy, two are from New Jersey and one player is from Central West region, Kansas.” 

Ashok Patel of US Cricket Academy, N.J., who is also platinum sponsor for the tour and one of the tour coordinator says he is “very happy to support California Cricket Academy because they have innovative programs to improve quality of the game of young boys. This tour of India will benefit the boys tremendously”. 


Child Development

First 5 California programs has issued a series of tips to enhance child development.

“The New Year is a time for renewal and an opportunity to make a fresh start,” it said in an announcement. “While young children can’t set their own goals, parents and caregivers can resolve to focus on fostering their children’s healthy growth and development. Infants start learning and exploring from the day they are born – and 90 percent of their brains develop in their first five years! As your child’s first teacher, you play an important role in helping him or her grow up to be healthy and ready to learn.” 

First 5 California offers a few tips to help parents and caregivers foster healthy child development.

Start a Conversation. Develop your infant’s language skills by talking with him or her often. Encourage your baby to make sounds and be sure to respond.

Talk, sing and rhyme to your infant.

Make the Most of Teachable Moments. Involve your child in activities like shopping at the supermarket – learn shapes when choosing fruits and vegetables in the produce section.

Point to signs and traffic lights to teach words and colors while you’re driving.

Guide your child to say “please” and “thank you” when asking for help at the library or checking out books.

Encourage Curiosity and Creativity. Being curious is important because it’s how children learn new ideas. By asking questions and finding answers, kids discover ways to solve problems and how the world works.

Ask your toddler questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer – this fosters thinking and communication skills.

Play with your child and encourage imagination.

Try new activities, like gardening or cooking, to stimulate children’s minds.

For more information about healthy child development and information on First 5 California programs, call (800) KIDS-025 or visit www.first5california.com/parents.



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