SinoScuba’s Schwankert Is First ‘Super’ VIP Donor


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Steven Schwankert, best-known in Beijing as founder of SinoScuba and executive editor of The Beijinger, inspired a new donor category when he decided to fund the cost of one cataract surgery — 800 yuan — through this year’s charity, Orbis.

Schwankert found himself on business in Lido yesterday and visited maovember event sponsor The Irish Volunteer to learn more about this year’s maovember campaign. Co-owners George Smith, Trish Smith and Zach Lewison told him about their plans to raise money with a corn toss tournament, moonshine picklebacks,  pin sales and more on November 22. George Smith, managing director of North Asia for Orbis, explained how the organization focuses on blindness prevention and treatment, which includes dramatically improving people’s lives by providing cataract surgeries that cost 800 yuan each.

Schwankert had a simple question: “What if I want to sponsor a surgery?” In other words, what if someone wants to take things up a notch from a 50-yuan pin to donating 800 yuan to give someone the gift of sight.

He thus became our first… well, we need a name for it. If buying a pin makes one a VIP donor, does funding an operation make one a Super VIP Donor? Or qualify one for a “golden mustache” pin? I think both.

If you want to sponsor an operation or have questions about maovember, email nihao (at)

Maovember focuses on quirky events for good causes. Our 2022 partner is Library Project, which has furnished thousands of reading rooms in rural schools. Learn more about Maovember here. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.