Chennai, India Program Details



Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellows work with Pranav Foundation to provide eye care for patients living in extreme poverty throughout the Chennai region. Pranav Foundation is a nonprofit trust run by ophthalmologists Dr. Senthil and his wife Dr. N. Malathi. The Foundation conducts community outreach programs for blindness eradication and prevention.

Date Options

This program has flexible dates for 7-30 days. You may select any dates that fit best with your schedule.
Volunteers may optionally pursue a research study in the Global Impact Lab.

Program Overview

Outreach Programs in Villages, Slums, and Schools

Global Impact Fellows work with Pranav Foundation's ophthalmic staff to provide eye care in remote rural villages, slums, and schools. The team of Pranav Foundation eye doctors and Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellows is transported on a van to the villages during the morning and returns to Chennai in the mid-afternoon. In the villages, Global Impact Fellows assist in a variety of stations in the outreaches, including the registration, optometrist, eyeglass, ophthalmologist, and counseling stations. Patients requiring ophthalmic care and surgery are transported from the villages to Pranav Foundation.

Educational Opportunities

The Chennai program provides extensive learning opportunities for those interested in global health, medicine, optometry, and ophthalmology. Global Impact Fellows have the opportunity to participate in outreach programs bringing eye care by local eye doctors to patients living in extreme poverty.

For those with an interest in medicine, ophthalmology, or optometry, there are ample opportunities to observe cataract surgeries by Pranav Foundation's cataract surgeons. Global Impact Fellows also work with small private eye clinics partnered with Pranav Foundation to learn how to use ophthalmic instruments such as slit lamps, A-scans, autorefractors, keratometers, OCT, and fundus cameras. Global Impact Fellows also have an opportunity to perform a cataract surgery on a goat eye.

Patients See Results

All patients screened in Unite For Sight's programs receive surgery funded by Unite For Sight so that no patient remains blind due to financial barriers to care.

Who Can Be A Global Impact Fellow in Chennai?

This program is suitable to anyone 18 years and older who has an interest in international service and health. Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellows are 18 years and older, and there is no upper age limit. Individuals between the ages of 15 and 17 may participate as Global Impact Fellows if they participate with a parent who is also a Global Impact Fellow. Volunteers range from gap year students, undergraduate students, and medical students to public health students, public health professionals, nurses, educators, opticians, ophthalmologists-in-training, filmmakers, and photographers.

What Global Impact Fellows Do

Standard Global Impact Fellows

Global Impact Fellows work daily with the eye doctors in Pranav Foundation's outreaches. The outreaches are held on weekdays in urban slums, villages, schools, orphanages, and old age homes. During the outreach programs, Global Impact Fellows assist Pranav Foundation's doctors with the eye care programs. They test visual acuity, take patient history, learn from the eye doctors about common eye diseases, learn how to use the autorefractor, and observe surgeries.

Additionally, volunteers have an opportunity to pursue independent research projects under the guidance of ophthalmologists and optometrists at the eye clinic.

Volunteers also have the opportunity to learn phacoemulsification cataract surgery on a goat eye.

Filmmaker and Photography Volunteers

Unite For Sight filmmaker and photographer volunteers document the voices of patients who receive sight-restoring eye care through Unite For Sight programs. The videos and photos promote awareness and information about global eye care needs and also demonstrate the commitment and dedication of Unite For Sight's local partner eye doctors who work tirelessly to provide eye care to those living in extreme poverty. The opportunity allows students, filmmakers, and photographers an opportunity to learn about development issues while making a significant impact.

Living and Lodging Expenses

The Global Impact Fellows lodge in the guest house of the Senthil family home in Chennai which has two bed rooms with air conditioning, western-style bathrooms, a kitchen, wireless internet, a refrigerator, microwave oven to cook food, and a television. Two volunteers lodge in each room, and the lodging cost is Rs 1250 per person (2500 Rs per room). The cost for lodging alone in a room is Rs 1700 per night.

Special Section For Students: Academic Credit, Clinical Rotations, and Research

This program is suitable for undergraduate and public health students interested in pursuing an internship for academic credit, as well as for medical and optometry students interested in pursuing a clinical rotation for academic credit. You should consult your academic institution regarding how you can arrange this type of course credit. Unite For Sight will complete student performance evaluations required by a university so that a student can receive academic credit. We can also provide a letter for the university that confirms a student's planned participation in the Unite For Sight program and describes the student's pre-departure online global health coursework and global health field participation. Please read the Academic Credit section of the Unite For Sight website.

This program is also appropriate for undergraduate students, medical students, optometry students, and public health students who would like to pursue a research project, which requires that the student have a faculty mentor at their home institution as well as IRB approval. Those interested in research should read the Global Impact Lab section of the Unite For Sight website.

Volunteer Perspectives: In Their Own Words

Read narratives by past India volunteers: