Curing isolated communities — Nar Phu Valley | #2030InSight
Nar Phu Valley is a small community in the Manang community in Nepal. The screening team made a strenuous two day journey to reach the village. The team travelled with all the equipment needed to set up the screening camps and complete eye assessments and surgeries.
Remote regions of Nepal can be difficult and treacherous to reach. Whilst many who reside there tend to stay within the confines of their villages, the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation needed to find a way in.
Many villages in Nepal are hours away from a hospital let alone an eye hospital. The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation makes direct intervention into the areas with no resources. This allows us to tackle the issue immediately rather than just throwing funding into different areas.
Having the foundation physically be present in the villages and communities ensures that we are successful in what we are aiming to achieve. Once in the village, the team set up a screening camp to assess the small community’s eyesight.
Once the screening was complete, each patient that was observed to have an issue with their eyesight, such as cataracts, was invited for free surgery at a surgical camp that would be set up nearby.
Making this journey was important to those working with the foundation due to the eagerness and willingness to eliminate poverty by curing avoidable blindness. The belief that curing blindness can help reduce poverty is one that is important to both co-founders, Mr Kohli and Dr Ruit.
It is essential that as many patients as possible are screened and checked for cataracts. If our goal to significantly reduce poverty is to be achieved we cannot allow people to go unseen. Ensuring that each and every member of the community is checked is something that is key to our foundation.
The Nar and Phu Valley has been closed off to the rest of the world since 1992. It is tucked between the Annapurna and Manaslu mountain ranges in the Himalayas with both of the settlements having stood still in time. Throughout the village are ancient homes, traditional Tibetan culture and a complete lack of connectivity to the rest of the world. The district headquarters for this region of Nepal takes two days to reach by foot and can be an incredibly treacherous journey.
It is estimated that around 300 people reside in Nar and 200 in Phu. In May of 2022, the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation staged 18 screening camps across the district of Manang, which is home to both Nar and Phu. Two of these screening camps were in both villages to assess those living with needless blindness.
In total the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation screened 136 people, 50 from Phu and 86 from Nar. To conduct these screening camps, the team had to walk for two days whilst carrying all of the medical supplies and equipment that are needed to check eyes for cataracts.
A total of nine people from Nar were identified as living with needless blindness — and were then invited for surgery at the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation microsurgical camp in Chame, Manang.
On 24th May, the nine patients, accompanied by two nuns from the local monastery arrived in Chame — where surgeries were performed by co-founder, Dr Sanduk Ruit.
The patients’ patches were removed the next day — and all nine returned home, with full vision, after having successful surgeries.
Nar and Phu are both very far and disconnected from the rest of the world and are both without public health facilities. The communities cannot afford the surgery, or make the long journey to the district headquarters.On top of this, the community eye centre does not have a permanent operating theatre meaning they have to travel further to the city if they wish to cure their blindness.
Therefore, on the initiative of Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation, an entire community was able to cure their blindness — which they would have otherwise been unable to access.