May 1st, 2013
This is it. The few days where hundreds of some of the poorest people in the world will receive eye care. For many, this is the first time they will have seen a medical professional of any kind. These few days are almost as momentous for Seva. This eye camp and the inauguration of a permanent eye care centre in Bajura is the culmination of thirty years of Seva’s work in Nepal. Bajura is the last district in Nepal without access to eye care. As of May 3rd, that will no longer be true.
Seva has always focused on the unreachable, the forgotten, the poorest of the poor. We believe that the most important thing we do is bring eye care to remote villages where the need is greatest and serve those who will never receive care unless it is brought to their doorstep. Patients have been lining up since 6 am to register and have their eyes screened; men, women, the very young and the very old. The atmosphere is festive and the entire town has turned out to watch the proceedings. We are camped on the hospital grounds at the edge of a bluff overlooking a deep valley. Mountains surround us and the entire village is perched on the side of the mountains. The slopes surrounding the hospital and campsite have become an amphitheatre for the locals. They sit on their haunches watching our every move. The bravest of the children come close to shyly say Namaste and have their picture taken. The line moves slowly but the first of the surgeries will happen this afternoon. We expect that about 100 cataract surgeries will be conducted over the next few days along with the provision of glasses and prescribing of medicines. The reporters who have accompanied us are sitting on the ground interviewing those waiting to be screened. They want to hear everyone’s stories and as I watch them interviewing the patients I see laughter, compassion, astonishment and sadness cross their faces. This is only the first morning and there are so many more stories to tell.