Cocktails for Orbis Canada | Orbis

Cocktails for Orbis Canada

When Dr. Maheshver Shunmugam was looking for ways to fundraise for Orbis Canada, a cocktail party seemed like the perfect fit. It offered a fun and informal way to network and get to know his fellow medical students, residents and fellows, while supporting an organization he feels passionate about.

Shunmugam, who graduated from medical school at the University of British Columbia in May, has spent the last seven months working with Orbis Canada Board Chair, Dr. Simon Holland, in Holland’s clinic. Holland, one of Orbis’s most prolific volunteer faculty members, has participated in more than 100 projects for the organization. His dedication to global eye health has been an inspiration for Shunmugam.

Hoping to specialize in ophthalmology, Shunmugam joined the Orbis Future Vision Leaders in 2020 as a way to learn more about global eye health.

Dr. Shunmugam is passionate about eye health and supporting Orbis's global efforts to end avoidable blindness.

Dr. Maheshver Shunmugam

Many mem­bers of my fam­i­ly were brought to South Africa as slaves. As African-Indi­ans, my fam­i­ly faced many chal­lenges dur­ing the Apartheid, includ­ing lack of access and often poor health care, edu­ca­tion and more. I grew up with fam­i­ly that under­stood the true val­ue of respect, kind­ness, equal­i­ty and com­mu­ni­ty. They taught me to sup­port all humans and to do my best to ele­vate my com­mu­ni­ty, be it on the local or glob­al scale. These are lessons I car­ry with me in life wher­ev­er I go, and have tried to embody dur­ing my med­ical training.”

His family’s history played a significant role in his desire to help those facing similar struggles and to have a global health component to his career.

Inspired by Orbis’s international work and looking for a way to engage the Orbis Future Vision Leaders community at his school, Shunmugam hit on the idea to host a cocktail party fundraiser.

“I believe the goal of the Orbis Future Vision Leaders goes beyond creating a community of engaged and inspired students. To me, it's about creating a community that supports one another, and also builds awareness of this profound need for global surgical care and ophthalmic medicine. Lastly, it's about having fun,” he explains.

Hosting a party, especially after so many years of virtual events, seemed like a fantastic way to bring those goals together.

The event was well-attended, raising more than $3,000 for Orbis. “We had tons of young ophthalmology residents and fellows that came to the party from across the world. We had members from Australia, Singapore, Nepal, Canada, and also the Canary Islands,” says Shunmugam.

Many of the local medical students, Orbis Future Vision Leaders volunteers and even some family doctors from the community were present to support a great cause and foster friendships. Shunmugam notes that Dr. Holland, as well as Dr. Sharon Kipfer, Derek Chan and Charles Li also played a big part in planning and executing the fundraiser – it was very much a team effort.

Funds raised will help support an Orbis program that brings much-needed eye care to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, a project that feels very important to Shunmugam. “This is a group of people who have experienced extreme trauma and are quite marginalized beyond their physical ailments, whether it be cataracts or other debilitating medical conditions. This is an opportunity for Orbis, and for medical students invested in eye care, to help people who really need it.”

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