Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Interview #2: The Eye Doctor Changing The World

Today’s interview is with Dr. Eric Dessner, an Adult and Pediatric Ophthalmologist in New York City. He is also the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Maji Umbrellas, an organization that supports efforts to provide clean water to people that are affected by the ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa. He embodies the spirit of emPLAYment because he’s successfully pursuing his passions.

1.     Hi Eric! Clearly, you’re a busy guy so thanks for taking the time to share your story. Becoming an Ophthalmologist and building a practice takes a lot of time, dedication and hard work. What are the best and worst parts of your job? Do you have a super creepy story to share?

The best part is watching the reaction you get from a satisfied customer, patient that is! It feels good when a patient that you’ve done cataract surgery on in one eye is so eager to do the second eye that they say, “Can we do the left eye next week?” It lets you know that you’ve done a good thing for them.

The worst part, hmmm….well it’s a stressful job at times. Microsurgery can be that way. Also, sometimes it can make you feel like a bit of a pinball--one patient to the next over and over, which can be a bit numbing. That’s why I always have music on in the background and like to work in different locations throughout the week.

Helping people seems to the common thread between your jobs. Does Maji help you fulfill some aspects that you were missing from your Ophthalmology practice?

Yes. It’s a creative outlet in many ways. My partner and I really started this from scratch, from the concept to its implementation. Also, the project gives me a chance to do some writing which I enjoy.

Maji’s focus is to sell umbrellas to raise funds for those suffering from drought in the Horn of Africa. What are your long-term goals, e.g. expansion to other regions or different types of products?

Well, right now we’re focused on the Horn of Africa. However, in the future we would love to have a role in providing clean water to other parts of the world as well. For now, we're focused on umbrellas because the umbrella ties together the themes of “protection” and “water.” A Maji mini umbrella for kids has been discussed because we think it would set a good example for children. There have been some preliminary discussions of other water themed accessories in the future.

We take drinking water for granted. Can you share some of the effects of not having enough water or water that’s not clean?

Well, lack of access to clean water claims more lives around the world each year than any war claims through guns. A survey in 2008 conducted by UNICEF stated that 884 million people lack access to clean water. That’s pretty staggering.

That's horrifying. Let's sell some umbrellas. What the best part of the umbrella? My guess is they won’t invert on a super windy day :)

The best part of the umbrella is that it has a built in donation to Oxfam America. Each purchase provides 20 days of clean water to the drought stricken Horn of Africa. It also looks great and is really sturdy. It’s a much better umbrella than many that are selling for 3x the price.

Thank you again for sharing your story. If you need a top-notch Ophthamologist, please see Dr. Dessner. And, you know you never have an umbrella when you need one, so please support Maji by buying an umbrella or two and help do some good by spreading the word. 

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