Fellow Since 2001
This profile was prepared when George Abraham was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Based on his own experiences and those of hundreds of visually impaired people, George has developed a program whose combination of clinical and non-clinical components will help the seeing impaired stand on their own feet and realize their full potentials. George has designed the Vision Enhancement Center (VEC) to institutionalize comprehensive, non-medical eye care services. The VEC provides counseling, equipment, training, medical referrals, information, and rehabilitation services. The Center's holistic support structure first encourages the visually impaired to explore, reflect upon, and define their own potential, and then helps them to realize it. George's goal is to build the first world-class institution for the visually impaired in the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) region. He wants the Center to be an example that will inspire widespread reform in the way the blind and other people with disabilities are treated, cared for, educated, and employed. One of George's key innovations is his decision to locate the Center in an existing eye hospital, a sympathetic environment that gives the VEC access to the hospital's advanced medical equipment and medical expertise. To avoid duplicating existing services and to garner support for his work, George is partnering with civil society organizations, medical professionals, the government, and corporations.