“Life is an echo, what you send out, you get back. What you give, you receive. When you bring out the best in others, you bring out the best in yourself.”
As a pediatrician practicing in Mumbai, India, Gopa Kothari became aware of the devastating effects malnutrition and the lack of education were having on children living in urban slums. Kothari realized unless there was significant improvement in the health and living conditions in the slums, these children faced a grim future, and thousands would not live past the age of 6.
Determined to fight these appalling conditions, in 1982 she founded the Child Eye Care Charitable Trust – family health, nutrition, treatment and education programs for these families. The programs provide full medical examinations for all children under 5, monthly monitoring of weight and head measurements of all babies, immunizations for children under 6, as well as vitamin A supplements and de-worming medicine to prevent malnourishment and blindness. In addition, the programs offer nutritional education for slum residents; medical follow-up for malnourished children; parenting skills; cooking skills to promote a diet of nutrient-rich vegetables; basic education for preschool children; and education programs for women and men.
As a result of Kothari’s efforts, 68,000 children have been protected from preventable blindness, more than 1.3 million women have received health education to protect their children, and more than 5,000 Indian children have received non-formal school education. Kothari’s programs run in a specific slum for three to five years until the local infrastructure of volunteers is established to take over. In addition to her work in Mumbai, she has impacted other Indian cities including New Delhi and villages in Gujarat as well as guided a similar program in Lima, Peru. Kothari was appointed to the World Health Organization Expert Advisory Panel on Public Health Administration in 1986.