Gloria Sutcliffe and her husband, Hugh, are longtime Seva Canada donors. Along with their daughter Nicola, they joined us on a trip to Cambodia in June. Here's Gloria's firsthand account of their experience.

Gloria and Hugh visiting a patient's home after cataract surgery

It is a pleasure to share the story of my recent visit to Cambodia where I witnessed one of Seva Canada’s eye camps and to see firsthand how Seva staff work hand in hand with the local Seva Cambodia team. The highlight of this trip was participating in interviews with patients and contributing to Seva’s story collecting.

On the first day, we met some patients in their local villages where a field worker screened them for vision impairment. We collected little fragments of their stories of day-to-day living with blindness. Many were elderly men and women with advanced cataracts and pterygium.

We met these same patients again early the next morning when they were bussed to the eye camp from a small radius of the surrounding area. I realized this group was just the tip of the iceberg of so many Cambodians with cataracts and other vision problems. With the help of our translators, we resumed our interviews. The translators were two Cambodian women who gently and compassionately asked our questions and brought each person’s unique story to light.

Some mornings we would arrive by 7am and the eye team would already be processing new patients and removing bandages from patients who had received surgery the previous day.

Gloria with Seva staff and translators in Cambodia

Seva Development Director, Christine, Translators Sovan and Liong, and Nicola and Gloria Sutcliffe.

There was no time to spare. Everyone who needed care was treated. By the end of the week, 336 surgeries were completed. The steadfast, exemplary work of the field workers, nurses and the doctors was very inspiring and uplifting. Everything was so understated and yet extraordinary and profound.

After the doctors checked each patient’s vision and the success of their surgery, they were taken back to their villages. We accompanied some of them to their homes where we were eagerly invited in to meet their families.

Cataract patient back home after surgery

Now, as I remember this experience of walking home with several patients, I realize how walking down the dirt road together in silence captured the sacredness and newness of restored vision for them and for me. Helping others has a profound effect on the giver and the receiver that words cannot really express no matter how I might try. I was privileged to share in this experience that so many of your donations made possible and I am grateful to be able to share a snippet of my experience with you.

-Gloria Sutcliffe

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