Samik Krishnan – Arizona Interview by Inspiring Teens Nomination and Photography by Anjeanette Photography Phoenix Issue 41 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
Nomination: Samik Puthucode isn’t just an amazing high school student who loves math- he also organizes a charity for glasses to give back! I was so encouraged by his heart of generosity- I have several older pairs of glasses that hopefully someone can use.
From Samik's website: "I have started with an idea to give away a couple pairs of glasses to local kids in Arizona, USA and to kids in Bangalore, India who couldn’t afford them. I also feel there is a need for helping people who have eye conditions such as Glaucoma, Cataracts, Bulging Eyes, Color Blindness, Crossed Eye, and Diabetic Macular Edema. I thought about this charity because I see many people that are older and younger, that have these eye conditions. Please help me in collecting eyewear and donating. Or if you can organize eye exams and related services to people in need in your own community. If you are an Eye doctor, you can be much more compassionate in organizing some events for free in and around where you live. If you have a loved one that is need of any of these services or has been through a tough time, you can see events that may be of interest to you on our website from time to time. Although we are based in the USA., we have a global reach with affiliates and friends in India and the continental USA and are always looking to do more with anyone that can and is willing to contribute. "
Photography by Anjeanette Photography Phoenix
Please tell us more about your charity. Onepair charity (https://www.onepaircharity.org) was created with a vision to help people with eye care, whether it is to find a pair of eyeglasses, to find doctor for eye exam/surgery. It all started with my thought of when in middle school, here in a suburb of Phoenix, AZ, to give away a couple pairs of glasses to local kids in Arizona, USA and to kids in Bangalore, India who could not afford them. With some personal history of to wear glasses for quite a few years now, and ever-changing prescription for teenagers, I also realized and saw the need to donate pairs that are not of use anymore to the needy. Having traveled internationally, to Europe/UK and Asia (India), I found this to be one way I could possibly make an impact, however small it may be. I hence, started to write to the larger nonprofits in this same area such as manufacturers like Essilor, and VSP Global, and other renowned bigger international organizations such as Lions International, to see if they would be able to help in my collection drives and recycling efforts, and further distribution to the needy. I was pleasantly surprised to see their kind responses and ability to be more than willing to help. In parallel, I also talked to many of my parents’ friends and contacts who are Eye doctors, Ophthalmologists around the world, and run hospitals to see their interest. They were kind and more than willing to assist. One renowned eye hospital in India, which is one of the oldest prosthetics and specialty eye hospitals actually organizes recycling efforts for used eyeglasses in reasonable condition and makes them available to needy. This really made my effort seem worth it and being able to create an impact. Hence OnePairchairty was created and is thriving now.
How did you get it started? Did you do it on your own or did you seek out others to help? As I have explained above, the initial thought originated in me, and then I solicited inputs from my Parents and their friends, to see if it would be something that could help and had some chance of being able to launch & succeed in the mission. With a lot of positive initial feedback, I then went ahead and created an initial website with details, and also wrote about it on my Blog. And that is how I got it started.
Image by a parent
What were your biggest struggles and how did you overcome them? It was initially to get inputs in a timely manner from friends of my Parents and their contacts, and eye doctors, and their time to think or talk about this. They are all busy individuals with a lot on their plate, however, everyone was very kind and wanted to get involved. Creating an initial website when I was in middle school was also a bit of a challenge, however my Mom helped out. We eventually used and continue professional small business (also run by a friend of our family)to help us out to now manage and maintain the site. Organizing annual or six-monthly collection drives has been my motive, although being in a school that encouraged it and were open to it in my middle school years, made it easy to get started with drives for collection. Before I was out of middle school, we organized drives for 2 consecutive years with great success. This also included 2020, when everyone was gripped with the pandemic.
Where is your charity now and what are your goals for its future? Well, we have been continuing to organize collection drives for my charity, and like I said, even during the pandemic, it was so heartwarming to see how generous people are, and they think about giving back to the community. The most recent drive was in my middle school in March 2020 and that was in-fact the largest collection of eyeglasses so far! Very heartwarming! The plans for the future are to continue the efforts and helping out the needy as much as I can through contributions to the recycling efforts of the partners, we send them to. Also, one of the aims is to be able to raise some volunteer donations in terms of $$ by willing and able people, towards the surgeries for cataracts, or for prosthetics for eye, with all contributions directly going to the hospital in India.
Image by a parent
Tell us about your journey with flying. I got interested in flying at a very young age (3 or 4 years if I remember) primarily due to traveling internationally, every single year since birth (except 2020, of course , due to the pandemic), with my parents. This really interested me in airplanes at first and the amazing technology in aviation. I started reading about it, and following people that are avid travel bloggers, especially Sam Chui, a favorite, (shout out to Sam!) and reading and seeing their video blogs and web blogs. I also got started on simulators, again, my parents who encouraged me and go on real simulators around the world. I started using simulator software and got really interested and started enjoying it. So much that every week I just felt immensely happy when I did that. I continue to do this. One of my friends at middle school was also incidentally into real flying school, and he has also advanced at the flight school at such a young age. (He was a year older than me), and so that got me to now getting started at flight school, as the minimum age is 15 years to be starting flight school lessons.
What is your blog about and who is your target audience? One of my hobbies alongside my school, was to write about interesting topics including things I did – basketball which I play and keenly follow (NBA), interesting places around the world, events in technology and similar. A nice way to share writings with friends and well-wishers is a blog and that is how I really got started. I try and keep up at it., although it sometimes is time management and needs time. My target audience is teenagers and above age group and I seem to have a good set of people that read and comment and encourage me. As I advance into being a high school sophomore and then junior & senior years, I intend to write on more invigorating topics in technology, medicine, economy and of course continue existing areas of NBA and travel.
Look for Samik in issue 41 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!