Jan 10, 2005- Everyday Hereos Column
He was here in the younger days of Aravind, back in the early 80s when there were no computers, no LAICO building, “nothing but the spirit,” as he put it, and he’s now in his sixth visit to India finding new ways to use his wide-ranging talents to help Aravind. A quiet man with a keen eye, Mike Myers notices the beauty of things that you probably overlook, and oversees things that you probably cannot miss. You may have seen him near the computer section of LAICO, or snapping photographs around Madurai, or teaching an illiterate boy how to read and add, or you may not have seen him at all, yet his unassuming gentle presence has been brightening life in and around Aravind for the last two decades.
Mike first heard of Aravind in 1980 while working for a company called Network Technologies International (NETI) headed by Seva Foundation founding member Larry Brilliant. The company worked on computer conferencing solutions for business, and Mike was one of top experts in the field. So when Larry approached and said that Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai wanted a computer conference system, Mike boarded a plane and headed for India via England with computer equipment in his bags. Unfortunately, European customs officials thought that the equipment looked like a bomb and confiscated his bags before he even touched down in Bombay. Frustrated, disoriented, and unable to communicate with the officials, he decided to leave everything in Mr. Thuslsiraj’s hands.
“Thulsi and Chitra were great. They took great care of me. They took great care of everything” said Myers. Thus began a lifelong friendship with Aravind that grows with each day.
Mike is currently volunteering his time to develop e-commerce shopping for Aurolab products, though he has worked on training videos and photography projects in addition to developing the seemingly doomed computer conferencing system. When I asked him what he enjoys working on most, he said, “Whatever makes Thulsi smile.”
Despite running a small magazine in the United States, Mike plans to spend increasing amounts of time at Aravind because of “Dr. V’s attitude of giving” that has touched him so deeply. No stranger to giving of himself, Mike often gives his pictures as gifts to the people he has photographed on the street. Many have never owned a picture of themselves and feel like “they just won the lottery,” beaming with smiles that he loves playing a part in creating.
Though he is back now, he was absent for over a decade between 1990 and 2003. After a bout with walking pneumonia, he began thinking about his own mortality and started looking for what he could do that mattered most.
“Everything else I’ve done will be forgotten. Things I’ve done here get built upon. Its great to be a small part of what’s happening at Aravind,” said Myers.
We could not agree more.
(migrated from my original Livejournal post)