R.K. and Aleah Arundale
There are few people more devoted to Himalayan Cataract Project’s mission to cure needless blindness in under-resourced countries than R.K. Arundale and Aleah Siegel Arundale.
The young Chicago-based couple have been supporting HCP’s work for six consecutive years, and most recently provided part of the matching funds for our successful June campaign. Thanks to their match, and the generosity of so many of you, the campaign raised over $110,000 in support of sight-restoring surgeries in Bhutan (see the story in this newsletter), PPE to protect our in-country doctors and patients, and virtual education opportunities for doctors and nurses whose training has been interrupted by the pandemic.
If you met them at a cocktail party, you would likely find the Arundales among the most interesting people in the room. R.K. is a Patent Examiner, and Aleah is an international diamond dealer with Olympian Diamonds (www.olympiandiamonds.com) and the founder of the popular Jewelers Helping Jewelers Facebook page. They are an outgoing, community-minded couple who enjoy taking their five year old and two year old to the park, sharing meals with friends, and being involved with the many cultural activities Chicago offers. They have a free library and a fairy garden in their front yard. They have actively reached out to neighbors during the quarantine to see if they need help, or just want to talk. The Arundales look for opportunities to make the world a better place.
I asked them recently how they learned about Himalayan Cataract Project and what inspired their commitment to our work.
“In college, I was Chair of the Volunteering Club,” recalled Aleah. “I worked with Blind Services in Chicago and found that the blind community was one most in need of resources. I loved and admired the people I worked with.”
“R.K. and I looked for an organization to support that was different from others, and valued what we value. We are about action and efficiency.”
“There are many organizations that raise awareness of issues,” added Aleah. “Awareness is great, but I want to get the work done to end blindness.”
“We learned about HCP when we attended an event in Chicago where Geoff Tabin and some or your affiliated doctors were giving a presentation,” replied R.K. “I was struck by their selflessness and modesty around the work they were doing. They were not slick or in suits.”
“Some problems seem too big to fix,” added R.K. “It doesn’t have to be that way. In America, we see clean hospitals and surgeries that cost thousands, and you are in places like Nepal and South Sudan, setting up clinics to cure blindness at a low cost. HCP takes risks, is flexible, and gets the work done. You show how cheaply and effectively it can be to solve problems like cataract blindness.”
With so many good causes to support, I asked the Arundales why they continue to choose HCP.
“We are people who believe in being active in our local community,” Aleah replied. “HCP gives us the opportunity to be caretakers of the global community as well.”
“How we found HCP isn’t as unique as why we stay involved,” R.K. added. “Supporting HCP for so many years speaks volumes about the work you do.”
“So many organizations lose so much money to raising money than actually helping the people they serve,” said R.K. “We are about doing the most amount of good for others with our money. You do your work cheaply and effectively, with low overhead.”
Finally, I asked the Arundales what they would like others to know about HCP.
“For $25 you can give 2 people their life back, the blind person and the caretaker whose life is spent caring for the blind person rather than working, or going to school, or contributing to their community,” replied R.K. “Almost everyone can give $25 to change lives.”
Himalayan Cataract Project is fortunate to have friends like the Arundales. We are so grateful to them and to all of you whose compassionate generosity made our June matching campaign such a success. You inspire us every day! Thank you from all of us at HCP.