Sri Paresh Orang is a daily wage worker in a small village in northeast India. Paresh and his wife have two young sons – one of whom was born blind. Providing for his family was difficult for Paresh, and because of his youngest son’s disability and the special care he required, life was that much more challenging.
Malang, Paresh’s youngest son, is now seven years old. When he was born, everything seemed normal – but as Malang aged, Paresh began to realize that something was not right.
Paresh says, “I felt sorry for Malang; I blamed myself because I couldn’t do anything for him. My relatives told me that nothing could be done because it was an act of God.”
Days turned into years, and things never became easier for Paresh and his family. Eventually, his meager daily wage was not enough to feed his family and his wife had to work as well. The parents had no choice but to leave Malang in the care of their neighbours, while they worked long hours each day.
The situation seemed hopeless. Paresh admits, “I was depressed and helpless thinking about my son’s future.”
Good news knocked at Paresh’s family’s door, when one day a community health worker from our partner hospital in nearby Assam, Sri Sankaradeva Nethralaya Guwhati, made a visit to their home. After examining Malang’s eyes, she diagnosed him with congenital cataracts in both eyes. She encouraged Paresh to take his son to a screening camp for a detailed eye examination.
The medical team at the camp informed Paresh that Malang required cataract surgery. Paresh was given a sliver of hope, but was still concerned about how he would finance the treatment they proposed. He could barely feed his family; how could he afford to give his son the treatment he needed?
The project coordinator, however, delivered great news. Paresh recounts the life-changing experience. “I was told by one of the staff that all treatment would be free, and the doctor told me that my son would be able to see after the surgery.”
After undergoing cataract surgeries in both eyes, Malang can now walk independently and help his mother with the daily chores. He is also now able to interact with children his age, play and make friends. These are things that are so often taken for granted, but precious and new to Malang now that he can see.
There are many more people like Malang who are living in darkness, waiting for the gift of sight. With the support of our donors and our partners, we can make a difference in many more lives through our hospital-based community eye health program. Thank you!