Changing Lives — How One Surgery Can Change a Nation | #2030InSight

Gyan Tamang at the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation microsurgical camp in Doramba.

Across the world, many developing countries such as Nepal have a population of people who struggle to access essential healthcare services. This often leads to the increase of poverty and unemployment. The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation are here to change that.

Gyan Tamang, a 38 year old living in Kathmandu with his wife and son, often found himself living in fear regarding his aging parents. His parents lived just under 100 miles away in his childhood home in the Ramechhap district of Nepal.

Gyan worked painting Thangka, which is a Nepalese Buddhist piece of art. Doing this is what encouraged Tamang to stay living in Kathmandu. However, his income was extremely low meaning that his family struggled to make ends meet. There was no way he could accommodate his parents in Kathmandu whilst living in poverty.

With this extreme weight on his shoulders, his mother, Maichang Tamang had been suffering with her sight and her blindness was deteriorating. As she lost her sight, life had started becoming more difficult for both Gyan’s mother and father. Gyan contemplated bringing his mother to Kathmandu for treatment, but it was almost impossible for his mother to make the ten hour journey through the treacherous roads.

March 18th, 2022 — Hope is in sight.

With the ongoing struggle. Gyan was informed by his father that a screening team had arrived near his village. The team was assessing the community and checking the community for issues with their sight. Excited and hopeful, Gyan made the decision to escort his mother to go be assessed and, if need be, have the necessary surgery.

On the 18th of March 2022, Gyan took three days off of work and made his way to his home village in Ramechhap. The following day, Gyan and his mother left early to travel to Doramba. The screening team in Doramba was The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation team. This particular team had pledged to reach out to all corners of the district to identify patients living with cataract blindness. Once at the camp, Maichang had her biometrics tested and was promptly taken into the operating theater to have the life changing surgery.

Maichang Tamang having her eyesight tested at the microsurgical camp in Doramba.

Maichang’s surgery was performed by Dr. Sanduk Ruit, co-founder of the Foundation who has made it his life’s mission to cure as many people of needless blindness as possible. Mr Tej Kohli, Ruit’s co-founder was also in attendance at the camp. Both Mr Kohli and Dr Rui share the vision of curing people of needless blindness in the developing world.

The pledge to cure.

With 40 million people across the world suffering with blindness, cataracts are the leading cause. People diagnosed with cataracts amount to half of the globe’s blind population, with the majority from developing countries. Cataract blindness causes severe economic and social problems, those diagnosed are no longer able to work or sustain a good living standard. Alongside this is the fact that only a small percentage of people who develop cataracts receive treatment or surgery due to living in communities where they cannot access or afford healthcare or any kind of treatment.

The two co-founders have made it their mission to reach across Nepal and assist in curing avoidable blindness across the nation. In doing this, the team invite those suffering from issues such as cataracts to have free surgery. The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation set up microsurgical camps across Nepal to support those developing communities who do not have access to subsequent healthcare.

Dr Sanduk Ruit (left) and Tej Kohli (right) with patients in Doramba after surgery.

So far, the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation have screened 3,251 patients, and cured 333 patients of cataract blindness just from the Doramba microsurgical camp. Mr Kohli believes that investment in the cure of blindness in developing countries such as Nepal could be a significant factor and help in ending extreme poverty. Both Mr Kohli and Dr Ruit have pledged and aim to screen one million patients and cure between 300,000 to 500,000 people of cataract blindness across Africa and Asia by 2030.

March 19th 2022 — The reveal

Maichang Tamang photographed at the microsurgical camp.

On the morning of 19th, Maichang Tamang alongside 332 others sat in an open school field awaiting the doctor to remove their patches. Maichang’s patches were removed in a joint effort by Dr Ruit and Mr Kohli. She slowly opened her eyes, in disbelief that she could see again. For a moment Tamang sat in a state of shock. In an attempt to break her from her initial shock, Dr Ruit asked Maichang to look for her son, to which she quickly pointed at Gyan with joy and excitement.

Dr Ruit went onto ask Gyan to talk to his mother about her sight. She shared that she could see everything clearly causing Gyan to become overwhelmed and emotional. Tears rolled down his face as he let out a sigh of relief. He thanked Dr Ruit and Mr Kohli and blessed them for helping his mother see again.

Gyan Tamang giving thanks for his mothers surgery in Doramba.

“This memory is going to stick with me for a long time.”

— Dr Ruit shared with Mr Kohli following the patch removals.

Nodding his head in agreement, Mr Kohli told Dr Ruit that it had “been an eye-opening experience to see the impact the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation has been making in the lives of people. We should now focus on taking our work across Asia and Africa”.

In 2022, the two co-founders are working towards expanding The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation’s work across several communities in Asia and Africa. It is easy to see and expect that the foundation will leave a legacy of social and economic change for many generations to come.

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Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation

Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation

The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation is advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goal to end poverty everywhere by making grassroots interventions to cure blindness.