Santosh Mururgan's Speech to the Rotary Club (11/5/13)
Good Afternoon Everyone,
First, I would like to thank Ms. Hiler and members of the Rotary Club for giving me the opportunity to speak about my community service work here today. Last time I spoke at Rotary South at Colonial Country Club, I spoke about my work for the nonprofit I founded, Bright Future For Blind, as part of the Rotary 4-Way Speech Competition back in April. Just briefly for any new Rotary members, the organization identifies bright students, most of whom are top-ranked in their counties and districts, but are forced to work before and after school (and sometimes even instead of school) just to put food on the table for their families, instead of studying to become doctors and engineers. We provide scholarships to rescue these students from child labor.
Right now in India, there are not enough books in Braille or in audio format for a blind person to study in high school and beyond. Education will enhance the lives of the blind, but they are unable to access this bright future because of a lack of reading material. So, our scholars read to the blind, enhancing the knowledge of both the student and the visually impaired person.
Through this form of volunteer work, I am helping a significant amount of people, but I realized that I should have a greater impact in the community.
Let me step back for a moment: There are three ways of serving the community. The first way is to go directly to the person in need, and help that person one-on-one, such as volunteering in a soup kitchen, or tutoring at a local Boys and Girls club. This method has its merits but would take a lot of time, and the scope of the work is limited- I could help only a few. I wanted to have a greater impact in society, which is why I moved to the second method, where I set up an organization (Bright Future) which utilizes the services of numerous other people, through whom my efforts can be exponentially increased. This way, I am able to help HUNDREDS of people through my efforts.
In these first two methods, I am helping people who already have a problem - but I realized I could have an even greater impact by eliminating the problem itself. This service to the community by eliminating the problem is the reason I began my scientific research. Currently, I conduct research into cancer cell technologies and neuroelectrical interfaces. Basically, The Neuro-Electrical Interface allows us to connect electrical wires to human nerves. With this interface, we could connect a camera wire to the optic nerve, and allow a blind person to see again. We could connect an microphone wire to the auditory nerve, and allow a deaf person to hear again. We could connect an artificial limb, prosthetic wire to a nerve and give a disabled war veteran an arm or a leg back. This ONE solution could eliminate blindness, deafness, and loss of limbs, thus helping MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of people. This is the impact I want to have on my community, and that is why I do the research.
I feel and hope that, in addition to running the Bright Future For Blind organization, doing this scientific research with passion and purpose will help me to serve, and have, a much greater impact on our community and society. Thank you.