Striving to create change in her community Striving to create change in her community

Striving to create change in her community

Striving for change lies at the heart of many young people. Like the avant-garde 26-year-old Jie-qin.

"I wish I could change the out-dated ideas of people," she said.

Jie-qin was born to walk the medical path.

"I was particularly fond of IV bottles when I was a child. I would ask for one to play with at home after seeing the doctor in the hospital," she said. And when Jie-qin needed to pick a subject to study for university, she chose nursing without hesitation.

Jie-qin lives in Binchuan, a quiet county in Yunnan Province, China. It's famous for growing grapes and people live a stable life.

Consequently, some people have reservations about seeking medical help.

When Jie-qin was in her early secondary school years, short-sightedness left her unable to see the blackboard clearly. She wanted to have a pair of glasses, but her parents said no.

"They thought once I started wearing glasses, I would have to wear them for the rest of my life," Jie-qin explained.

"But I could not see ABC on the blackboard clearly and I didn't want my English to be game over! I had a hunger strike for a day for the glasses. My parents surrendered in the end," laughed Jie-qin.

"When I wore the glasses to visit my grandmother in a very old village, people looked at me as if I was a monster and gossiped about my glasses." But Jie-qin believed changing how people think would also save their sight.

Now Jie-qin is an optometry nurse at the Binchuan People's Hospital and the only person responsible for checking patients' eyes.

Sometimes she visits schools with other staff at the hospital to conduct screenings for students.

Screenings and professional medical advice are especially meaningful for those who do not understand the importance of caring for eyes, and for families who are less privileged.

Students line up to have their eyes screened by Jie-qin.

Jie-qin also joined a three-month optometry training course run by The Fred Hollows Foundation.

"The training talked about knowledge ranging from patients coming to have their eyes checked to them leaving the hospital with a pair of glasses. We also learned how to polish the lens.

"There was so much to learn in three months!”

The Fred Hollows Foundation followed Jie-qin to the home of an elderly lady living in a village, and witnessed her gentleness with patients.

Jie-qin saw that the family was poor, that some members were sick and that the economic burden was big.

"If she cannot see then an extra person is needed to take care of her. If her eyes are good, she can take care of herself, cook, and take off the burden from her son and daughters in law.

"Eyes are thus very important to a family," Jie-qin said.

Passion and young medical staff striving for professionalism are essential to improving eye care services in remote areas.

The Fred Hollows Foundation will continue to train more eye care professionals like Jie-qin to restore sight, and change lives. 

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