A simple cataract surgery brings back colours of life
It’s not hard to explain how some people are surviving in certain parts of rural Bihar.
Poverty, unemployment and exploitation are common and adding to that is blindness.
Many are trying hard to carry on with agriculture like the way they used to.
Many are struggling to make a living through tenant farming.
Many are domesticating cattle and selling milk. Many are working as mechanics. Many are blacksmiths. Many serve as security guards.
Many are toiling as labourers at construction sites. Many are workers in nearby factories. Many are trying to bring home some money by running makeshift tea-stalls.
Many are ending up doing menial jobs such as cleaning and domestic work. Many are coming to the streets, begging for every grain of food.
And there are many depending entirely on neighbours or NGOs for food, medicine and support in other forms.
The list goes on and on.
In the case of Patma Khatoon, it was selling bangles. She went door to door and sold bangles of all colours and sizes, making Rs.100 a day.
But that figure dropped to half due to poor eyesight. She could no more travel on her own.
Her husband set up a tiny bangle shop with discarded sheets of tin. He had lost his right leg in an accident. Despite that, he tried to sit in the shop and sell bangles.
But Patma had difficulty in identifying the colours and customers got offended. The bright sunlight made it worse.
To add to that, she accidentally broke many bangles and incurred an extra loss.
Soon she realised something was not right with her eyes.
Patma Khatoon had just entered her 40s. So she thought it was too early to have cataracts and the burning in the eyes was due to something else.
But she felt frightened to the core and searched for eye care services.
In the process, she found many eye hospitals in rural Bihar. But not a single one she could meet the expense of. So the journey turned out to be intimidating, and she returned home disappointed.
After struggling for three years, she saw the silver lining behind this dark cloud.
She heard our outreach team’s announcement one day. As it crossed her shop, it mentioned the date, time and venue of our Mangalpur eye camp. She had no idea about us back then and wondered if it was something that she could trust or avail.
So she decided to try her luck and set out on another journey.
On reaching our camp, she heaved a sigh of relief. She saw scores of cataract affected people waiting for their turn. She was elated when we told her the check-up was free. She felt blessed with good luck when we told her we could also perform a free sight-restoring surgery.
We said we would charge not a single farthing.
We assured her we would do our best and help her go back to normalcy.
She believed in us and allowed us to bring her to Saran along with other patients.
Patma Khatoon is now recuperating from surgery in the right eye.
She wants to go back to selling bangles door to door and also tell her husband to take rest at home.