INSPIRATIONS / MFV Stories of Transformation

Quiet flows the Dawki

Mission for Vision partners the Bansara Eye Care Centre (BECC) in Shillong, Meghalaya to reach some of the remotest parts in the region. In a visit to the area, photographer Nilanjan Basu documents the work done by BECC to eradicate avoidable blindness with the support of MFV.

Niangti Tangpu's experience motivates her to spread awareness in her village

Dawki is 83 kms from Shillong, Meghalaya's capital city. It's a remote place that's on the border with Bangladesh where the waters of the river erase boundary lines.

Niangti Tangpu, 58, lives in Dawki. She and her youngest daughter live together. Her only source of income is to trek into the hills each day and collect betel nuts. She carries her heavy load back and sells by the bagful at the local market. When her eyes developed cataracts she had to stop working as she couldn't see clearly anymore. Niangti's husband who was alive then used to do the same work but when he passed away, she was left to fend for her daughter and herself.

Niangti's eyes were operated upon at Bansara Eye Care Centre Hospital at no cost. Her eyesight was restored with vision classified in the good category. She is so happy that she can see again that she shares her experiences with other villagers and encourages them to get their eyes checked.

From four years of darkness into the light

Sakita Sukai, 65, worked in the fields and was the main bread-winner in the family along with his son. Sakita developed cataract in his eyes which left him completely blind. He had to stop all work shifting the entire burden of earning a livelihood to his son. For four years, Sukita lived with his blindness believing it was his fate and was not treatable.

Swarnalata Deka, the Community Health Worker at Sri Sanakara Nethralaya (SSN), Guwahati was going door to door to check people's eyes when she met Sukita. A simple examination with a torch revealed that he had cataracts which were operable. She convinced Sukita to go to visit the outreach eyecare camp for a more detailed examination.

At the eyecare camp, SSN staff explained to Sukita that he would be taken to the hospital in Guwahati for surgery and all his expenses would be taken care of. Post the surgery, he was able to see again.

Sukita started working too but he no longer works in the field. He has opened a shop in his locality where he sells vegetables and fruits grown in his own backyard. A life transformed and a family life able to return to normalcy thanks to MFV's support and the work done by its partner Sri Sankara Nethralaya.

Igniting a vision, a dream, a future – MFV’s focus on Child eye health

Watch Madesh, Sanjai, Kamakshi and many more children reclaim their childhood and a rightful future with the restoration of their vision.

Maruti Ambare

Maruti Bhikaji Ambare lives with his wife and daughter. The couple earn their living by rolling bidis. It's tedious, time-consuming work and they are paid only for the number of bidis rolled. Ambare started developing low vision in one of his eyes. This led to a drop in the number of bidis he could roll, leading to a loss in income for his family. This turn of events caused severe mental anguish for him until one day he got to know of a MFV supported eye camp 20 kilometers away from home. At the camp, Ambare was diagnosed with cataract. Sight restoring surgery was performed at Tulsi Chanrai Eye Hospital.

He is now back to contributing to the family's income as before.

11-year-old Ganesh is eager to join his friends in school again

Ganesh studies in the 6th grade in a hostel for rural students. He is 11 years old. A few months ago he developed a fever and was brought home. Ganesh's parents took him to a doctor who diagnosed cataracts in both his eyes. Through an MFV supported camp, Ganesh reached Tulsi Chanrai Eye Hospital where he recently underwent surgery in one eye. Within a month, he will have undergone surgery in his other eye too. With his sight restored, Ganesh will be back in school in no time.

Ashok Pendharkar returned to work with restored vision

52-year-old Ashok Pendharkar is a carpenter & welder by profession. He developed cataracts in both his eyes & couldn't work anymore. Ashok became totally dependent on others. For nearly a year he was in this condition until a relative took him to a MFV supported eye camp, nearby. There, he was diagnosed with cataract in both his eyes. Subsequently, surgery was performed at Tulsi Chanrai Eye Hospital, first on one eye and then the other. Ashok's sight was restored and he was overjoyed at being able to see again. Ashok started working again and earning his living. As he lived alone, he was happy that he could be independent. He did not have to trouble his neighbours and relatives anymore.

Returning vision so she can help family out with household chores

Yashodabai Gumbade lives in a tribal area in Nashik district. She belongs to a poor family who subsist by working as daily wage workers & rearing farm animals. She helps her family out with household chores, including taking care of her grandchildren. Her vision started deteriorating and soon became blurred. She was less of a help around the house. Yashodabai heard of the MFV supported eye camp where she got her eyes checked. She went to Tulsi Chanrai Eye Hospital to get her cataracts removed. With her sight restored, Yashodabai can help her family in the house again. She is happy to be contributing to the family's work again. She is also relieved to be independent once more.

With restored eyesight he is back at work and is happy to have regained his independence.

68-year-old Subhash Deshmukh lives by himself in a rented 10x10 feet room in Sinnar town, Nashik. He works in a general goods store as a daily wage worker earning barely enough for his needs. When cataracts developed in Subhash's eyes he was very worried as deteriorating vision meant he wouldn’t be able to earn a living or take care of himself. Subhash attended a MFV supported outreach camp and underwent surgery at the Tulsi Chanrai Eye Hospital. The blurry vision became a thing of the past.

With restored eyesight he is happy to regain his independence

This is how 85-year-old Raghunath Powale’s world looked like when his cornea started developing opacity. Since childhood he had vision only in one eye. Now, he was worried about losing vision in that one eye and becoming dependent on others. Raghunath attended a MFV supported outreach camp and underwent surgery at the Tulsi Chanrai Eye Hospital. The blurry vision became a thing of the past. In the words of Raghunath Powale, “I can't express my gratitude for being able to see again. Now I don't have to be dependent on anyone. I manage to do all my work on my own.”

Prathamesh's family prevented an 'avoidable' blindness from affecting his life with a simple, timely eye examination.

One year old Prathamesh was referred to the Tulsi Chanrai Eye Hospital, a MFV partner, by his local doctor when the child did not respond to visual stimulii like other children of his age. His family brought him to the hospital knowing the high quality of eye care provided. Prathamesh was diagnosed with congenital cataract in both eyes. He underwent surgery immediately. Prathamesh will have regained his vision in his left eye and soon his right eye will also be operated upon.

‘A Stitch in time’ – A story of Hope

Even after losing his left hand in an accident, 50 year old Iruthayaraj never lost hope. He ran a small tailoring shop on the porch of his house, in Srivilliputhur, Virudhunagar district, state of Tamil Nadu. A cataract formation in his eye could have ended his inspirational story there. But after attending an outreach camp conducting eye checkups, he got his right eye operated in our partner’s hospital, Sankara Eye Care Institution, Krishnankoil. His vision has now improved and with the help of spectacles he is able to see clearly. He has since resumed his tailoring and continues to weave his own story.

‘There are NO Victims here’ – just PROUD Individuals.

55 year old Sushila Mondal lost her husband 13 years ago and lives with her two sons. After her husband’s death, her poverty and daily struggle to survive took a toll on her health. She came to know of Mission for Vision’s ‘Vision Center’ and attended the OPD where she was diagnosed for mature bilateral cataract. Few days later, she underwent a cataract surgery in her left eye at our partner’s hospital, Sankara Nethralaya, Kolkata and her vision became clear. With her vision now clear, she shares her experience with neighbours and has become a mobilising factor for others in her community.

Restoring Vision and a Childhood

Two years ago, 9 year old Dharshan from Keelanethinallur in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu was playing with his friends in the school and got injured by a pencil in his left eye. Unknown to Dharshan, due to the trauma a cataract developed in the eye. His vision started deteriorating but he didn’t tell his parents about it. Then his teacher noticed that he was unable to see the blackboard. His parents got to know about the eye camp conducted by the Sankara Eye Hospital at Krishnankoil. The doctors there advised them to go to the hospital and Dharshan was operated. His vision was restored. And a childhood was resumed.

Returning Vision So He Can Earn a Dignified Livelihood

A 68 year-old Chinnavenkatesh lives in Chamrajnagar, Karnataka. He is a goat farmer and had 50 goat’s in his farm that he bought by taking a loan. However because of his deteriorating eyesight, he lost a few goats and encountered with an accident. This hurt him physically and monetarily. After attending one of the outreach camps, he was diagnosed with cataract in his left eye and was advised to do a cataract surgery with Intraocular Lens Implantation. He underwent a surgery at our partner’s hospital, Sankara Eye Care Institution, Bangalore. After surgery his vision was perfect at 6/6. Today he is back to his farm and a contributing member of society.

A Herdsman’s Lament

Munniyappan is 65 years old, and resides in the village of Ramapuram, Tamil Nadu. He rears sheep, goats, cows and bulls. He found it very difficult to take care of his livestock due to deteriorating vision and his efficiency dropped to a bare minimum. A few months later, he was informed of an outreach camp being held in his district by the Sankara Eye Centre, Coimbatore. His eye problem was diagnosed and he was advised surgery. Post-surgery his vision improved markedly. With great enthusiasm and confidence, he returned to his business and has been doing well ever since.

Living the golden years

70 year old Kripal Singh from Manavdevda, a village in the Sirmour district of Himachal Pradesh runs a small local shop with his wife, which is his sole source of livelihood. A few months ago, Kripal Singh began to experience reduced and blurred vision due to the development of cataract in both his eyes. His income was not nearly enough to be able to obtain treatment for his condition, and his sons offered no assistance. Kripal Singh attended the free eye camp conducted by Nirmal Ashram at the Pontasahib Gurudwara, where his condition was diagnosed and his case accepted for surgery at Nirmal Ashram Eye Institute in Rishikesh. The surgery allowed Kripal Singh to regain his vision and go back to running his business and earning a livelihood.

Prashant Madake from Gardhani, a village in the Ahmednagar district is 8yrs old and a student in class 3 of a Government run school. Suffering from reduced vision since birth, Prashant was often unable to play outside with the other kids and also faced difficulties at school. During a visit to a nearby eye hospital in Ahmednagar, his family was told that the cost of corrective surgery would be in the range of Rs. 10,000, a sum they could not afford.

Prashant’s parents heard about the community outreach camps conducted by Tulsi Eye Hospital in the area and visited a camp being conducted at Akole, nearby. After being screened at the camp in Akole, Prashant was taken to the Tulsi Eye Hospital in Nasik where both his eyes were operated upon within one month. Prashant now has better vision in both his eyes and is able to keep up with his classmates at school.

With his sight back, he stands on his own feet

Mr. Hanumanthappa, 70 years old, lives in Ananthapuram District in Shimoga. Over the last one year vision in his right eye deteriorated and therefore he was unable to work. This situation forced him to accept money from his family members. One day he heard a mobile announcement about Sankara Eye Hospital outreach camp. He attended the camp at Rampura, where the doctor indentified his cataract and advised surgery. He underwent surgery at the Sankara Eye Hospital – Shimoga. Post surgery he has gone back to doing his regular work. At his age he cannot do any heavy work, but he helps in supervising the farming and feeding of cows, thus leading a fairly productive life.

At no one’s mercy anymore

68 year old Subal Mondal, earns his living by begging on the streets of Kolkata. He lives on a footpath in Central Kolkata. Suffering from a cataract, Subal cannot or could not stand straight on his feet, hence he moves around sitting on a hard plastic, crawling on the road.

He was identified by a MFV health worker. Initially, he was reluctant to visit the camp but with the help of a few project health ambassadors, he was taken to the camp. When he reached Sankara Nethralaya, the community surgeon insisted that he should be bought a pair of clothes since his only dress was very dirty and was at risk of an infection post-surgery. After the surgery Subal’s joy was inexpressible. He was happy that at least he can now make his own food or arrange for it.

A four-fold blessing

Narasaiah is a construction worker living in Shimoga. He suffered from poor vision for a couple of years and did not know of any remedy. Eventually due to his poor vision, he was unable to carry out his daily activities which affected his ability to earn. One day he saw the Sankara Eye Hospital bus crossing his village and he heard of the outreach camp that took people from the village to the hospital for free surgeries. He attended the camp conducted at Bhadravathi and with the assistance of a health worker of MFV he underwent surgery on his left eye. Now he enjoys good vision. His renewed confidence in life has enabled him to increase his daily earning fourfold.

A Clean Sweep

Chandrabhaga from Dapur village in Nashik is a broom maker. Broom-making requires skill, honed and perfected over generations, and swiftness in executing the process from beginning to end. Due to a mature cataract in both her eyes, Chandrabhaga was unable to make brooms – her only livelihood. Abandoned by family members, Chandrabhaga was despairing in life. Just as she felt like giving up, her neighbors brought her to a community ophthalmic outreach program in the village. After the diagnosis, she was taken to the Tulsi Eye Hospital for her left eye operation. After the successful operation of her left eye, she enthusiastically revisited the camp after two weeks to get her right eye operated. Weeks later, Chandrabhaga regained her confidence and is back to making brooms and is no longer dependent!

A Healer’s Intervention

From Harijanwadi, Andhra Pradesh came a widow and her teenage son Suresh. The widow is the sole provider, working as a daily labourer on a farm. Sometime back Suresh started complaining about his eyesight which was not as sharp as before. As his vision deteriorated, his confidence fell. Confused, helpless and emotionally drained by his worsening scenario he withdrew from school. The Headmaster of the school reached out to a MFV volunteer and apprised him of Suresh’s plight. Suresh was immediately taken into health care where he was diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes. Surgery followed suit at Sankara Eye Hospital, Pammal. Suresh, on having regained his vision is now extremely eager to finish his education, get employment and allow his mother much needed respite and rest.

A Weaver’s Faith

In Sakarankovil, lives a widow aged 60, with her daughter. Mrs. Subbammal, a weaver by profession, weaves cotton saris for a government society. As her vision started to deteriorate, as hard as she tried, her products started getting rejected, and hence there were no payments. Her daughter was recommended by well-wishers to get her to outreach camps being held by Sankara Eye Hospital. Even though she was diagnosed with cataract, doctor’s were unsure if she would regain her vision after the surgery. She chose to place her faith in God and the doctors. And her faith was rewarded. She is back to weaving with gratitude in her heart; referring all those afflicted with vision problems to Mission for Vision. She is now earning her regular salary.

From a Doubter to a Spokesperson

Living in Ultadanga, Kolkata, Moni Banerjee is now 60 years of age. She has led quite a tumultuous life. At the age of 23, having lost her husband, she was left to fend for herself, two daughters and a son. To garner income, she started work as a domestic help. Working industriously for many years, she even saved enough to get her all children married. She developed a cataract in her right eye which she got operated upon at the local government hospital. Post surgery, her vision did not improve. An MFV health worker chanced upon her and identified a mature cataract in her left eye. Due to the unsatisfactory health care provided to her by the government hospital and contending financial woes, she was reluctant to be operated upon. Personnel from MFV counseled and proactively persuaded her. She was then operated upon at Sankara Nethralaya, Kolkata. The operation renewed her eyesight and she goes about her work with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. She is now a staunch MFV advocate.

Turning Back Time

After a decade of repairing watches in the Bellary District, Mr. Purushothaman at 60, started suffering from health issues that forced him to shut shop. Due to cataract, his vision was deteriorating rapidly. His ability to carry out his daily tasks became increasingly difficult. Sankara Eye Hospital came to Shimoga with an outreach programme. Filled with hope in his heart, he rushed to see if his vision could be restored. The doctors examined him and suggested that he get SICS done on his eye. On being counseled and explained what the procedure was, Mr. Purushothaman was eager for his surgery. Thanks to a successful surgery, Mr. Purushothaman was able to return to living a life of independence and dignity.

Back to normal

Kalabai Chimaji Kale, 65, was blind in the left eye for more than 3 years and was totally dependent on her son and grandson. She had no idea about what was to be done till she met SakharamJadhav. Sakharam was also suffering from cataract and had regained his sight after being operated at the Tulsi Eye Hospital, Nasik. He highly recommended the procedure. Kalabai then attended a camp which was being conducted by Tulsi Eye Hospital. She was diagnosed with cataract and was taken to the hospital. In the hospital she underwent all the necessary investigations and subsequently a cataract surgery was performed. Both her vision and her life were normal again.

A Wonderful World

60 year old Reena Mogya Bhilavi, from Nandurbar, Maharashtra lived with her farmer son. For nearly a year, she had lost her eyesight and was dependent on her son for her day to day activities. A Bhojraj Eye Hospital social worker advised her to go to a screening camp that was being organized in that village. During preliminary screening, it was observed that she could not see anything but had perception of light. She was admitted in Bhojraj Eye Hospital for cataract surgery. After the surgery on the right eye, she was so happy that she asked for the surgery on the left eye to be done immediately which was done after a month. While leaving the hospital she said, “I will never forget your hospital and your work. Your hospital and doctors have given me my lost vision and new life to see a wonderful world.”

Back to taking care of business

Rasiklal Vankar is the head of his family. He stays in Jorpura, Anand. He suffers from extremely low vision due to a developed cataract in his right eye and an unsuccessful cataract operation on his left eye six months prior; in another hospital. His dependency on his family and his helplessness to provide for them drove him to despair. Rasiklal immediately visited the eye camp of the Sankara Eye Hospital, Anand. The doctors diagnosed him and under their watchful and gentle care he underwent surgery on his right eye. The surgery was successful and Rasiklal was overjoyed. Being able to see gave him the independence he yearned for. It gave him the opportunity to look after his family.

Tiny miracles, huge possibilities

Four years ago, Yasmeen, barely a toddler at nine months, was taken for a routine checkup of her eyes to an outreach camp conducted by Sankara Nethralaya JCOC at Gengu Samy Naidu School, Tirutani. She was diagnosed with cataracts in both her eyes and surgery was recommended. The operation was free, the social workers assured but the consequences of not performing the operation would be grave and Yasmeen would certainly lose her vision. The intricacies of the operation were explained to the parents. Due to the diligence of the doctors at Sankara Nethralaya, JCOC and the skillful handling of Yasmeen’s parents during counseling by the social workers present at the outreach camp, Yasmeen is growing up healthy and leading a life of a normal child.

More than vision – a livelihood restored

Mr. Sivagnyanam aged 65 years, is a poor tailor living in Thiruthangal. He is the sole earning member of his family. Due to a cataract, his vision started to diminish and while he tried to sew with one eye, he received a lot of complaints from his customers. Mr.Sivagnyanam visited the outreach camp at Sivakasi which was organised by the Sankara Eye Hospital, Krishnankoil. He got his eye operated. After a successful surgery his vision has improved to 6/9. He has not only seen a rapid growth in his customers, but also in his income. He is delighted with this gift of sight and he has referred over 10 patients with eye ailments to the hospital, including his wife.

Divine Intervention

Damodharan stays with his wife in Arani, Tamil Nadu. Out of his three daughters; one died in her teens and the other two are married. After he developed cataract in both his eyes and his vision was reduced to a bare minimum, he was unable to work. Forced to work by his son-in-law and due to his impaired vision, he met with an accident that left him handicapped for life. He lost his leg. Luckily he heard about a free cataract surgery camp being held by Sankara Nethralaya, organized by TRDT and Sathya Sai Trust, Arani. He came forth and underwent a successful surgery which returned his vision. On recovering he gained employment at Periya Palayam Temple and manages the prasadam counter.

A new lease of life

Mahade Sone Chimdu aged 65 years is a farmer and stays with his wife in Chikhuldapada, Silvassa. He was born with a defect in his right eye which rendered it blind. He developed cataract in his left eye which left him visually disabled. It became impossible for him to continue farming and to add to his woes his children started to ill treat him. He came to know of an eye camp held at Chikalthana by the Bhojraj Eye Hospital. He rushed there with his wife in hope of a solution. The doctors diagnosed him and he was transferred to the hospital for surgery. The operation was successful and he was soon back on his feet farming and supporting his wife in her household responsibilities. His equation with his children took a turn for the better as well.

To be counted. To be empowered.

Ms. Govindhamma is 56 years of age and lives in the Tiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu. She works as an agricultural labourer. Unfortunately, she developed a cataract, which left her with extremely poor vision. She was also concerned that her lack of vision would not allow her to safeguard herself from snakes and insects while she was working on the farmland. Due to this, her work stopped. A few weeks later she heard of an outreach camp being conducted by the SN-JCOC, Chennai. Upon her visit she was diagnosed with a mature cataract and was immediately taken to the hospital. The following day she was operated upon. She is now able to perform agricultural and domestic activities with regained efficiency.

A child should have a childhood

Munna is a small child who suffered from very low vision and would have problems in discerning people when they called out to him. Just like any other child trying to explore the world, many a times he would walk into walls thus hurting himself and crying bitterly. His mother could never leave him unattended even for a single second. Upon a visit at an outreach camp at Nindrai being held by SN-JCOC, Chennai, Munna was diagnosed with a cataract. He was immediately taken into surgery. Post-surgery his eyesight improved and now he is extremely happy, playful and very curious, thus gaining confidence with every step. He recognizes people and has made many friends.

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