Many people across the world live a life of needless blindness. The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation have made it their mission to travel around the world to cure those living with cataract blindness to alleviate poverty.
Paruli Devi lives in Bajhang District in Nepal’s far-western region. She used to spend her days in darkness or sit on the small porch outside her home, waiting for anyone to spare some time to talk to her. Paruli was an active person before her blindness, she liked to keep herself updated with the events of her village. However, with everyone else at her home occupied in the farm, no one could spare time to amuse her with the village gossip. She spent most of her time in isolation, feeling helpless due to her blindness.
When Paruli’s family members heard of an upcoming Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation microsurgical camp in their village, the family decided to bring her there. Her grandson, who is in the twelfth grade at school, decided to forfeit three days of learning to take her to the camp.
On 22nd December, Paruli, along with her neighbor Manuri Dhami, who was also living a life of needless blindness, arrived at the camp in Bijgada with their caretakers. An eye health personnel working with the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation assessed Paruli’s eyes and saw that she was living with cataracts. Cataracts are a form of needless blindness which is highly prevelant in the developing world due to lack of access or inability to afford surgery.
Paruli’s eyes were being screened as part of a global initiative of Nepal’s Dr Sanduk Ruit and investor and philanthropist Mr Tej Kohli to screen one million, and cure between 300,000 to 500,000 of cataract blindness by 2030.
In a old classroom in a local school in Bajhang, which had been converted into a functional operating theatre, Paruli waited for her turn for surgery as the medical team continued to cure around one hundred patients daily.
Finally, when her turn came, Paruli underwent the seven minute life transforming surgery. The operation consists of a small-incision cataract surgery perfected by co-founder Dr Sanduk Ruit. Paruli’s cataracts were skillfully removed by Dr Ashish Manandhar, an attending surgeon part of the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation’s one month long camp.
The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation was able to screen 1,987 patients, and cure 352 people of cataract blindness in Bajhang District as the foundation staged 3 Outreach Microsurgical Eye Camps (OMEC) throughout the month of December in the remote district.
The next day, before Paruli’s patches were removed, she was pensive – unnaturally quiet, perhaps thinking of the outcome of the surgery. However, within minutes, she was seen smiling with the doctor who restored her sight, happy to be seeing again.
Along with her restored sight, Paruli also found her confidence returning. She did not feel as helpless as she used to, and looked forward to going home and continuing with her life.
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