HIMALAYAN CATARACT PROJECT: Happiness sparked in Saipal, Nepal
Scanning the surrounding mountains with newly-unbandaged eyes Pyaru Bohora, a 77-year-old patient exclaimed, “Oh, it’s morning! I can see now!” Her happiness could be felt rising like the warmth given off by the morning sun. Pyaru, a resident from Bajhang, was under the expert care of Dr. Reeta Gurung, CEO of Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology.
The Rural Municipality of Saipal is home to less than 3,000, and eye-related problems affect 25% of the population, mainly due to unavailability of services. Many of the patients have gone 10 to 12 years without any treatment.
Pyaru, who had been silent before having her sight restored, remarked, “There are so many people around. How do I recognize all these people dressed in red, black, and yellow dresses? Where are they from?”
Dr. Gurung pointed toward a teenage boy and asked Pyaru if she recognized him. Pyaru looked at him for a moment before replying that she did not. Someone from the crowd then indicated that the young boy is Pyaru’s grandson who had carried her to the camp.
“Birendra, you have grown so big,” said the grateful grandmother, unable to hold back the tears of joy that rolled down her face. Pyaru’s grandson was very small a decade ago when she lost her sight.
People at the outreach were moved as Pyaru blessed Dr. Gurung for restoring her sight so late in her life.
“You brought me back from the grave and showed me light. I wish you a very long life,” she said. “I have no money. If I had some, I would offer it to you.” Dr. Gurung’s eyes teared upon hearing the kind words from Pyaru.
Nearby, a 60-year-old patient sang and danced to celebrate the restoration of her eyesight after five years of darkness. Another patient, a 55-year-old from Dhuli commented that, “It feels like someone has opened doors during sunrise. My world has become bright now...I feel motivated to live longer.”
During the two-day outreach in October, 56 patients received sight-restoring cataract surgery. In addition, 380 pairs of glasses were distributed. A total of 643 patients were screened to determine if surgical intervention or glasses could improve their vision at the event organized by Geta Eye Hospital and District Hospital, Bajhang.