66 year old Manuri Dhami of Bajhang District in Nepal had been living with cataract blindness for the past three years. With no money for surgery, and the closest eye hospital being ten hours away, she and her family members had accepted blindness as Dhami’s fate.
Bajhang is a picturesque district in far-western Nepal, it is also extremely difficult to navigate owing to the harsh terrain. For a blind person like Manuri, navigating without assistance invited the risk of falling and injuring herself. She therefore had to rely on her family members for assistance to perform basic tasks such as going to the toilet or cleaning up after herself.
A part of the reason why Manuri wished her blindness was cured was for her daughter’s sake. Her daughter, who had her own farm and family to look after, would have to free up time for her mother’s well being, affecting her economic productivity. Her son is working in India as a migrant worker, and earns only enough to make basic ends meet.
On 22nd December, when a Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation team arrived in Bijgada Rural Municipality for a microsurgical camp, Manuri’s daughter carried her on her back to bring her to the camp. At the camp, Manuri’s eyes were assessed and her surgery was performed for free by the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation on 23rd December, 2021.
In Bijgada, the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation team had converted a classroom into a temporary operating theatre. Along with Manuri, the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation was able to screen 1987 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, moments before Manuri’s patches were removed, she wasn’t entirely convinced that her sight would be entirely restored. However, minutes later, Dr Anish Manandhar removed her patches and she was stunned to be able to see again.
In the evening, as the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation began packing up after a successful microsurgical camp in one of the most remote districts of Nepal, Manuri was seen smiling as she returned home having received a second chance to sight.
Cataracts are the leading cause of needless blindness worldwide, accounting for more than 50% of the world’s forty million blind. A staggering 90% of the world’s cataract blind live in the developing world, unable to access or afford surgery like in the case of Manuri Dhami. Investment in curing communities of cataract blindness allows communities to escape the seemingly inescapable cycle of poverty-induced needless blindness, and contributes towards the Number 1 United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ending extreme poverty everywhere.
It is with this vision, the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation has embarked upon a mission to screen one million, and cure between 300,000 to 500,000 of cataract blindness by 2030.
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