Special report by Brian Doolan, CEO
Nepal: Step by step, twelve-year-old Kamala led her grandfather Jokh through remote Himalayan foothills to The Foundation's outreach eye camp.
Jokh knew he was a burden on his family
In a remote village in the mountains of Nepal, 12-year-old Kamala got herself and her grandfather Jokh ready for a life-changing journey.
Jokh had been blind for six years, but the family had just heard there were doctors who had come into their part of the mountains to help.
Jokh knew he was a burden on his family. He couldn’t help care for the smaller children, and Kamala, his eldest grandchild, often had to miss school to look after him.
"I love my granddaughter very much. I want to be able to see clearly once more so that she doesn't need to care so much for me. She must go to school and learn about the world," said Jokh.
Jokh and Kamala set off alone. Kamala’s father and uncles had to tend the fields and stock, and take care of the other children.
For two long hot summer days they slowly made their way along rough tracks through the foothills of the Himalayas, Kamala firmly holding onto her grandfather’s arm.
Finally they reached the small town where The Foundation travelling eye clinic team was operating.
The town's school had been converted into an operating theatre. Benches where children would normally sit to learn their lessons were joined together to form a makeshift surgery.
People walk for days for treatment and surgery
The eye team was led by Dr Reeta Gurung, the second in charge at the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Kathmandu.
Dr Reeta, as she is affectionately known, was deeply moved by the people who walked for days in the summer heat to see her.
Jokh and Kamala joined the line of people waiting for treatment. Soon it was Jokh’s turn.
Dr Reeta performed the simple procedure – replacing his cloudy cataract with an intraocular lens – and half an hour later Jokh emerged, his eye covered with a patch.
Kamala quickly took her grandfather’s arm again. She slipped his shoes on for him and led him to a dark place to rest overnight.
The next day Dr Reeta removed Jokh's eye patch. She held her hand out in front of him.
"Can you see here?" she asked Jokh.
Kamala sucked in her breath, her eyes fixed on her grandfather's face.
Jokh nodded. Dr Reeta moved her hand. "And here? And here?" He nodded each time.
Dr Reeta smiled. "Can you see?" she asked
"I can see,” Jokh said, smiling. “I am so happy. Before I could see very little, but now I can see mountains in the far distance. I am so happy to have my vision back.”
A huge smile spread across Kamala's face.
"Kamala will now be able to attend school every day," Jokh said with satisfaction.
Jokh will no longer depend on Kamala to look after him. And he is now able to support his son by caring for the younger children.
For Kamala, seeing the clinic in action opened her mind to new possibilities. "I want to be a doctor so I can help people like my grandfather," she said.
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