The hills of Nepal are some of the most isolated and hidden parts of the world. Across these regions lives small communities who are often shut off from the rest of the world.
Despite the scenic beauty, many who live in these areas are unable to see and appreciate the rolling hills and mountains. Cataracts is highly pervasive in these marginalised regions and can change someones life in an instant.
Wana Village lies deep in the eastern hills of Nepal. Similar to other villages, the residents wake up as the sun rises and work until the sun sets. Memebers of the community tend to crops, raise cattle and maintain their homes, nearly every member of the community contributes.
This is may be true for most of the community, however, when an individual begins to suffer from cataracts, they can no longer do their part. Sun Maya Tamang of Wana Village has been suffering with cataracts for over two years. Her blurred vision means she is no longer able to work. Prior to her blindness she works in the fields and cared for her family.
Whilst Sun Maya was occupied with work and her family, her husband was able to pick up the odd job around the village. However, due to Sun Maya’s blindness the family began to suffer. Her husband, Shakti had to care for his wife and family meaning there was no longer any time to work.
The struggle across their home was visually evident — the family home needed to be repaired, food was scarce and her clothes were worn out than their neighbours. It was clear that the family had began to fall into extreme poverty.
Wana Village features some difficult terrain, and if Sun Maya wishes to walk alone she faces the risk offalling down and injuring herself.
On top of this, the family do not have enough money to cure Sun Maya, meaning they are also unable to fathom making the twelve-hour journey to the city to have her eyes checked.
Sun Maya’s husband Shakti heard of a Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation outreach camp that wouldbe visiting their village. Filled with hope, he escorted his wife to the camp.
One day earlier, teams from the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation and the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology arrived in Basantapur. They took over the Shri Basanta Higher Secondary School and quickly converted the school into an eye clinic, with the classrooms serving as spaces for biometry tests and a temporary operating theatre.
As the sun come up the following day many eager patients began to arrive. Overall, 2218 people were screened and over 200 people were found to be living with cataracts and were invited for their free surgery.
Dr Sanduk Ruit and Dr Hom Gurung began operating on the patients to restore their sight. On the first day, Sun Maya was scheduled to undergo surgery, but injured herself by falling down. Due to her injury, she had to wait til the following day to have her surgery.
The next day, Sun Maya was carried into the operating theatre and her surgery lasted fifteen minutes. Dr Ruit removed her cataracts and sent her off to heal. A hopeful Sun Maya was patched and sent to the resting area whilst teams continued to cure hundreds more.
After some much needed rest, Dr Ruit slowly removed the bandages off of the patients the next day. As patients celebrated their newly restored vision Sun Maya patiently waited. As she had her bandages removed she opened her eyes.
It was then that Sun Maya realised she could see and had been cured of blindness and could return home to her normal life.
221 patients had been cured of blindness at the camp. The teams work in Basantapur was done, but it wasn’t time to return home as of yet. The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation teams then began to make their way to Tapethok where a further 70 more patients awaited their opportunity to see again.