Celebration and anguish can be the strangest of bedfellows. Today, we experienced both in spades, as we witnessed “patches-off” day at the Eye Hospital in Nepal.
It’s the day when everyone who’s just had cataract surgery lines up to have their eye-patches removed. It’s that hold-your-breath moment when they find out if they can see.
Our team prepares to celebrate with almost 20 children and adults who are eagerly waiting to see clearly, some for the first time. Inside a ward, all wearing our red shirts, we gather to witness this fresh crop of patients having their sight, hopefully, restored. It’s an unusual sight: locals and a red-t-shirt army of Aussie radio jocks, all gathered together in the children’s ward of a hospital in some remote part of Nepal.
A 6-year-old, who’s been vomiting all night from the medication and has hardly slept, is the first in line to have his eye patch removed. The dressing comes off, and a cheeky grin creeps over his face. He can see! We all cheer.
It’s a surreal moment, every time you see that smile.
Hope’s goal for Miracles Day is 8000 miracles — we’re almost there!
Imagine all of those children, mothers, fathers and grandparents having their sight restored — thanks to you.
Our twins, sisters Riya and Nazman, who we’ve spent time with over the last few days, are next. The youngest daughter’s patches come off. She struggles to focus, and makes out some hand signals – barely. We cheer! “It worked”—we think?
It’s a whirlwind.
The oldest daughter is next. Her patches come off, she correctly counts off the
fingers for the initial test. We cheer.
It speeds up.
Then the adults.
Cheers, Photos, Videos, Cheers.
Next, it’s time for the proper eyesight assessment.
Again this gorgeous six-year-old boy, with his smile beaming from ear-to-ear, steps up. He aces the exam, he reads each line, stopping on the third, with the fourth still a little blurry. But he passes! We cheer, he smiles!
Our twins are up next.
Younger daughter Riya steps up, and is asked to read the largest letter.
She is panicked. Flustered. She isn’t looking where she should.
The doctor steps forward, and tries again with his hands, from a distance of four metres.
A faint, half-hearted guess.
Now, 30 centimeters.
Riya tells us she can barely see the shadow of 2 fingers. Anguish creeps across her
face, the mother looks devastated.
Riya is whisked away for further assessment, as her sister Nazmin then passes the test. The dull thud of reality creeps in. Riya’s cataract, that tiny white growth of protein in the lens of the eye that clouds the vision, was rock hard after 16 years of growth – and both she and her sister Nazman face multiple eye operations in their future. There was always going to be a real chance that one of them couldn’t see.
Ugh. It’s gut wrenching.
- Be Part of Giving Sight to 40,000 People This Miracles Day!
- Live From Nepal: Sam & Duncan’s Miracles Day Blog – Updating Daily!
We cheer for a six-year-old, we weep for a 13-year-old.
It’s a stark reminder that early detection and treatment of cataract blindness is really, really important. And that every time one of these eye operations is a success, that person becomes an evangelist for their local community, so that hopefully someone in the future can have the operation done sooner.
This Eye Hospital in Nepal examined 1 million eye patients last year, from across Nepal and India. If the hospital maintained that rate of treatment, it would take 1,300 years just to cover the population of India today. And if they were just to treat the population who live in poverty, it would take 300 years.
This work is SO IMPORTANT! The scale of the issue is massive, and we need AS MANY PEOPLE TO HAVE THE SURGERY AS POSSIBLE! Every single healed person stands as a radical testimony to educate others that healing is simple and possible in a clinic like this. It isn’t a luxury, but a right, for every person to have access to treatment like this. It’s a $33 difference-maker.
The hospital will continue to work with Riya on rehabilitating her vision, and there is every chance her sight could continue to improve. But sometimes reality doesn’t live up to our expectations.
We love you, Riya! You are so brave, and together, as a community, we are praying that your sight might miraculously be restored.