Mission for vision: Meet N Sankaranarayanan who convinces and motivates deceased relatives to donate their eyes – The New Indian Express

Championing the great cause of eye donation, this man has helped many open their eyes to the world
Published: 04th September 2022 06:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th September 2022 06:48 AM   |  A+A-
N Sankaranarayanan
PUDUCHERRY: Dark shades, whitish kurta, walking sticks and placards on eye donation. On any of the regular days, all the members of the audience who cheered for N Sankaranarayanan in utter astonishment as he walked towards the podium in disguised charm, would have easily mistaken him to be a man challenged by eyesight.

But not when he is out there to receive an award for social services from N Rangasamy, the Chief Minister of Puducherry, on Independence Day. It was both an occasion of honour and a chance to create awareness.
When words fail, the eyes explore the world with glamorous snapshots and reflections. Sankaranarayanan, who is now 60 and living in poverty, more than anyone, savvies it. Over the past three decades, he has been able to convince and motivate more than 250 families in donating the eyes of their deceased relatives.
“I have approached over 1,000 families for eye donation over the years. Many times I have been shunned and ignored,” says Sankaranarayanan, who lives on the old-age pension of Rs 2,500 provided by the Puducherry government.
Serving society or working for a cause just didn’t come by design to Sankaranarayanan’s way. A school dropout, he entirely dedicated his life to social service – especially towards creating awareness on eye donation – after the unfortunate death of his sister. Since it was a suicide, Sankaranarayanan, then aged 18, was compelled to single-handedly follow up the police formalities and carry out the last rites. It was the point in his life that turned him to servicing society, recollects Sankaranarayanan.

From providing assistance in medical treatment to providing clothes for the needy, he went on helping people in whatever ways possible until an unexpected event in the year 1988 diverted him to a specific track. One of his sisters gave birth to a baby girl deprived of eyesight and the family’s struggle made him realise the importance of perception.
Ten years later, he began his eye-donation journey by donating the eyes of his deceased mother. Later on, he used to turn up at the houses of mourning in the neighbourhood for eye donations.
“Everyone used to be very superstitious about removing the eyes of the deceased. They used to hurl abuses and throw me out of their houses. Moreover, since there were no mobile phones or internet those days, I had to cycle all the way to the hospitals after getting permission for eye donation,” he recollects his journey so far.
Apart from this, he regularly collects leftovers from marriage functions and parties in utensils and transports them in autorickshaws in order to feed the poor. From sanitary workers to Narikurava women, the helping hands he has extended reach out to various quarters and it knows no boundaries. Once he had even donated slippers to sanitary workers.
The only time he slowed down was when his income dwindled, his wife died and he started having health problems and had to undergo bypass surgery. At present, struggling with health issues and living off an old-age pension, he still relentlessly adheres to the needs of the people.
“Serving humanity, in itself, is a religion,” he adds.
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