We all know that the years spent in school are one of the most important times in every child’s life. Almost every parent leaves no stone unturned to give the best education to their children. But too often one important learning tool that may be overlooked is a child’s vision. According to WHO report, more than 90% of visually impaired people come from the economically weaker section of the society, and this puts a lot of underprivileged children at risk.
Poor eye care among underprivileged children is fast emerging as a critical issue in India, especially because they do not have access to an eye examination and a pair of glasses. They also tend to be more susceptible to eye infections and diseases because of poor dietary habits & unhealthy lifestyle. But these ocular challenges can be easily prevented, treated and corrected if caught early on. Therefore, early screening for detection is extremely important to tackle this rising vision problem and one such endeavour we came across is the ICICI Lombard ‘Caring Hands’ initiative.
Here I present the interview of Jerry Jose, Head – Human Resources, ICICI Lombard General Insurance speaking about Caring Hands, a unique CSR initiative and employee volunteering program run by ICICI Lombard. Excerpts of an interview:
Can you please tell us more about ICICI Lombard ‘Caring Hands’ campaign?
‘Caring Hands’ aims at providing preventive healthcare services in the area of eye-vision to underprivileged children. Studies have shown that 80% of what a child learns is processed visually. When a child’s vision suffers, chances are his school-work does, too. These vision problems often go undetected in children from less-affluent families which affect their learning ability, personality, and adjustment in school. Children are the builders of our nation and ensuring quality vision for children in their formative years is a challenging task. The ‘Caring Hand’ initiative is inclusive in every sense of the word. It ensures a better vision for children, thereby facilitating a brighter future for them.
What is the history and motivation behind ICICI Lombard’s ‘caring hands’ campaign?
At ICICI Lombard, we have continuously strived to go beyond our business focus and contribute to further the well- being of the community in which we are present. We have taken multiple steps to meet this objective through specific initiatives in the areas of Preventive Healthcare, Road Safety, and Disaster support. The scope of the initiative was sharpened to focus on preventive care of eyesight. The idea was to make the exercise more tangible as students who were diagnosed with poor vision could be provided with corrective vision spectacles and thereby offer a solution to their eyesight problem. The eye check-up camps though planned over two months are conducted across schools all over the country on a single day.
Why is it invested in the eye-care sector?
The Company identified a cause, i.e. eye problems in kids and worked towards offering a solution to the problem. Given that children are our country’s future, it made a lot of sense to focus on this age group. We could thus build a sustainable activity wherein every year new children reaching the particular age band can be diagnosed, and their issue of poor vision addressed.
Tell us a description of how the programme works.
The employees of ICICI Lombard entirely manage the activity. The Company provides the guidelines to ensure consistency across branches and provide the necessary support. Employees volunteer to take the lead from the various offices and locations of ICICI Lombard. The Captains further form and lead a team of employees. Each Captain with his/her team is responsible for one eye check-up camp.
Teams are responsible for:
- Obtaining permission from schools serving underprivileged children to conduct free eye check-up camps for students
- Arranging ophthalmologists (eye-specialists)/ eye doctors for each camp
- Collating the vision data as diagnosed by the ophthalmologists and sharing data on children requiring spectacles
- Placing the order and collecting ready spectacles (the company has entered into a central tie-up with reputed spectacle manufacturers to provide spectacles)
- Handing over spectacles to the school authorities
The Company’s CSR Committee, Marketing & Corporate Communication team and HR ensure constant communication and facilitating coordination between branches at various stages of the activity.
What are the areas that the campaign works towards reaching?
The initiative takes place across India. The campaign focuses on ensuring that underprivileged children who otherwise do not have access to quality health check-up especially in the area of eyesight are provided with the right diagnosis and solution in the form of spectacles. The initiative focuses on children in the age group of 9 – 13 years who are in the formative years of their career.
What is the reach of the programme?
ICICI Lombard’s employee-driven CSR activity has reached out to underprivileged children for five years in a row. Over the last seven years, the initiative has touched over 175,000 children across 100 cities in the country. In the process, we have provided free spectacles to over 20,000 children thereby helping them with a clear vision and the confidence to aspire for a bright future.
In the last seven years, we have catered to across 273 schools in nearly 100 cities. Last year, the activity helped identify 5874 cases of poor vision that were provided with corrective lenses free of cost. Over 2,500 employees participated from various locations forming teams that joined hands to plan and execute the entire activity. With the Company’s long-standing commitment towards this unique initiative, ICICI Lombard continues to increase the scope of its activity with each passing year.
What have been the results of the campaign?
ICICI Lombard’s employee-driven CSR activity has reached out to underprivileged children for five years in a row. Over the last seven years, the initiative has touched over 175,000 children across 100 cities in the country. In the process, we have provided free spectacles to over 20,000 children thereby helping them with a clear vision and the confidence to aspire for a bright future. This day has now been earmarked as the ‘Caring Hands’ Day at ICICI Lombard. This initiative has also been recognized by the Guinness World Records (Record created – Most eye tests in one-hour multiple venues is 1526).
Tell us a few success stories of the campaign.
Over the last 7 years, the initiative has been reaching out to more and more students. Starting with 11,000 children in the first year, i.e. 2011, Total kids screened 36217 and spectacles recommended to 5582 kids till date.
Secondly, around 50% of the employees participate every year which shows the overall importance that the initiative has been able to garner within the company.
Disclaimer: The views expressed by the interviewee in this feature are entirely his own and does not necessarily reflect the views of MacroTraveller.
MacroTraveller is very excited to be associated with this initiative and to know more about #CaringHands2018, please follow ICICI Lombard: