Two bright lights found each other and created a path filled with conviction of beliefs and shared joy. With great humility, they spent an entire lifetime educating and nurturing humanity. These bright lights were two of India’s premier doctors, researchers and humanitarians.
Dr. Sunil Solomon, in loving memory of his parents, has established The Suniti & Solomon Victor Foundation which will have specific goals in two primary areas: education and health.
Dr Suniti Solomon documented the first cases of HIV infection in India in 1986 and set up the country’s first voluntary counseling and testing services while she was a professor at Madras Medical College. She went on to found the Y. R. Gaitonde Center for AIDS Research and Education (rendering yeoman service in HIV prevention, treatment, research and education). The many tributes to her after her passing included this piece in The New Yorker.
Right from the time she started working, Suniti Solomon funded the education of her maids, cook, gardener, and others in need who worked in her institution. Education was dear to her heart, as was the welfare of women who had to fight for their rights in what is very much still a patriarchal society. To that end, the Foundation seeks to pay for the education of girls from families in need who have obtained admission to college but are faced with having to drop out due to insufficient funds to pay for their education.
Dr. Solomon Victor was one of India’s leading cardio-thoracic surgeons. He performed the first open-heart surgery at the Government General Hospital, Chennai and was responsible for a major revamping of this Department of Surgery. Later, he became the Director of The Heart Institute. He performed thousands of surgeries on people in need, often not only waiving his professional fees but providing assistance with other costs and in some cases, even donating his own blood to his patients. His passion was rheumatic heart disease, which he considered a stain that needed to be removed. To that end, he started the Rheumatic Heart Ailment Project, screening and treating impoverished children attending schools run by the Corporation of Chennai, and operating on persons without means. The Foundation aims to offer surgery gratis or at subsidized cost to children and adults with rheumatic heart disease (mainly affecting the cardiac valves) and implementing screening programs for such disease in poor children.