"If you don't have rights, you can't talk about peace".Dr. Sreemathi Seshadrinathan CC Leader - Hearts4Hearts
A quick search on Google showed me that, in India, about one in every 100 children has a heart problem, which may also be called a heart defect or congenital (present from birth) heart disease — a heartbreaking fact by itself. But an even more devastating reality is that access to a possible solution for cases like these (treatment with medicines, surgery and/or medical procedures) is still a matter of privilege as opposed to being a fundamental right.
That particular challenge is also the reason why our CC Hearts for Hearts (H4H) came to life. Led by Dr. Sreemathi Seshadrinathan, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in person during the Global Leadership team visit to India, in January this year, H4H is a Public Charitable Trust that performs with its surgical team free cardiac surgery and follow-up for the under-privileged, breaking barriers of religion, caste, creed, and geographical barriers.
As we joined local CCs from the Kerala region coming together to share their work and discuss in groups goals and challenges to be addressed in their next steps, as well as how our global team can serve and support these efforts, we listened with attention to Dr. Sreemathi Seshadrinathan, as she presented to us the achievements of their running program SOCAN (Solution for Cardiac Afflicted Needy).
I felt enthusiastic by the leading posture of Dr. Sreemathi delivering her presentation with national pride, pointing out the importance of coming together as one just like Mahatma Gandhi did when he led the entire country into the foundation of a non-violence and peace, campaign and government retaliation, to the country's struggle for independence.
And I felt inspired by her service. A service that started with a young Sreemathi committing to spend her life, saving other people's lives through the science of medicine and then becoming Dr. Sreemathi Seshadrinathan, a surgeon with a cause.
When asked by our Global Council Chair, Preeta Bansal, how she describes to others the value of being part of URI, as the surgeon she is, she was precise and profound:
"First of all, it is essential that everyone should live. Only after that, we can talk about peace, we can talk about organizations coming together, we can think about values. [...] The very fact that I am presenting this paper here itself is due to this spirit of belonging you told me.", and concluded: "If you don't have rights, you can't talk about peace".
It is on behalf of the underprivileged and on the name of interfaith harmony that Dr. Sreemathi Seshadrinathan and her Hearts for Hearts team have performed 296 surgeries on infants, children, and adults since their foundation in July 2011.
In 2019, they joined URI as a CC, therefore being one of our brave allies in India, in building a culture of peace, through the granting access to the fundamental right to being alive, despite the lack of social and economic privileges.