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John and Susie Van Sickle
John and Susie Van Sickle spent several months at Aravind, developing and implementing an on-line Inventory Management System for all the Aravind hospitals. Susie heads a real estate and property management system; John worked in FedEx management for many years, and is expert in operations management.

Question:How did you hear about Aravind?
John: Susie and I planned to start a mobile hospital in India -- going into a village and providing screening and care, then moving tents, equipment and doctors to another village and repeating the process. Many of the friends supporting our idea suggested we look at the Aravind model for insight.

Question:What did you find most rewarding about working with Aravind?
John: Working side by side with the family and staff at Aravind was wonderful; everyone we met was most gracious and hospitable. The family included us in their family activities, introduced us to many wonderful people, took care of us when we were sick, included us in events of the city, and most of all, allowed us to contribute to the growth and expansion of the hospital. We have numerous memorable moments from each trip to Madurai and all across the cities of the AECS. We love meeting people from all over the world and learning how they have become involved in Aravind. Many of these people have stayed in contact, expanding our knowledge and friendships.

Question:What was most challenging?
John: We had to learn the style, pace, and protocol for holding meetings and scheduling project goals differs from the US experience. We had to convince end users of the new inventory system that there would be savings of both time and money. This was achieved with the help and encouragement of many members of the Aravind staff. Negotiating with the auto rick drivers and navigating new parts of the city was also a great adventure. Riding our motorcycle and not being able to understand the road signs was very interesting.

Question:Why should people volunteer with Aravind
John: Aravind’s culture is like nothing you have experienced before. Their focus on mission is unsurpassed. You are among a group of some of the best problem solvers you will ever meet. When we are asked about Aravind by friends in the United States, we say, World-class hospitals, world-class people, and world-class hospitality. There are really no words that could adequately express the admiration we now have for the vision of Dr. V and how his family carries on his wishes. You may start out thinking your participation is about curing needless blindness in India. In reality, it is about curing blindness all over the world. You will soon believe in the power of one. The lesson in front of you is that one person can change the world!

Question:What advice would you give to someone volunteering in India?
John: A former graduate student and now friend of over 25 years who grew up in India gave us some sage advice. You must look at India for what it is. Not at what it is not. You will then be able to see the beauty.

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