Year ending April 2013
It is always heartening to come to the end of a financial year. Because then we stop and really look at what has been achieved over the past 12 months.
In Bihar, nearly 60,000 had their sight restored at the Akhand Jyoti group of hospitals. And the paediatric team there carried out nearly 200 operations on children with cataract. A successful Paediatric Surgical Day was held in March with Second Sight’s Geoff Woodruff participating.
Our English language programme at the AJEH became firmly established. A continuous rota of teachers prepare girls from the Akhand Jyoti Football Academy and other young rural women and men to gain a place on Diploma and Degree courses run at the hospital.
Suman Tiwary became the first footballer to complete her secondary schooling and pass the entrance exam for the diploma course.
Our film about the AJFA –Junction for Having Fun—continues its screenings all over the UK and abroad and was selected by two film festivals. We are extremely encouraged by the warmth of its reception…and its ability to bring in funds!
We are also encouraged by news that two other hospitals with whom we exchange ideas and plans—the Ramkrishnan Mission Hospital and Laxman Eye Hospital, both in Muzzaffarpur, have stepped up their work in Bihar.We are particularly happy that the LEH are conducting good outreach programmes into the rural areas north of the city and are now ensuring that patients fit the blindness category.
Bamdah Hospital continues to do stalwart work in southern Bihar, particularly for child patients. (see World Sight Day 2012).
Meanwhile in western Orissa, Dr. Shiva’s TN team carried out over 7,000 operations. Most of these were carried out at the new out-of-town hospital site also funded by Second Sight. Dr.Shiva was recognized for his hard work by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) who gave him a Real Heroes Award. However, he was too busy to leave his team to go and collect it so Second Sight’s John Sandford Smith (who was at the IAPB meeting in Hyderabad to demonstrate his marvelous invention of a pocket-sized, solar-powered ophthalmoscope) brought the award to Orissa. We are grateful to International Rotary for helping to fund some of Dr.Shiva’s operations.
In spite of the harsh economic climate, our regular donors grow in number. Thank you all for believing what we believe : that small focused charities with clear end aims can punch well above their weight and have a huge impact in their chosen field.
Another brilliant year!
In Bihar over 50,000 blind men women and children had their sight restored/were given sight for the first time. Most of these operations were carried out at the AJEH group of hospitals.
Second Sight surgeon John Bryars, whose usual assignment is a smaller hospital where he is the lone surgeon, enjoyed three weeks working alongside the highly experienced team at the AJEH.
Students on the Diploma of Ophthalmic Technicians Course passed their first year exams. Second Sight orthoptist Rowena McNamara introduced the students to screening for eye problems in the local schools. Thanks to all the visiting teachers/trainers and to the resident ophthalmologists and paramedics who have added teaching to their busy schedules.
Several research papers are in the pipe-line, collaborations between the AJEH and Second Sight ophthalmologists. We hope to see the first paediatric ophthalmology paper coming out of rural Bihar in the year 2012.
We will also see the first girls from the Akhand Jyoti Football Academy starting on the DOT course in 2012.
Second Sight surgeon John Sandford Smith returned to Bamdah Christian Mission Hospital to check up on his ‘student’, ophthalmologist Dr. Samuel Murmu who provides the only eye-care in this very remote area of Bihar. John was delighted to re-examine a patient on whom he had performed a corneal graft a few years back and to find him enjoying good vision. (see Tales to Remember)
Dr. Helen Rao completed her two years at Gems Christian Hospital where she went to help establish an active Ophthalmology Department for the first time in the hospital’s history. Thanks to all Second Sight ophthalmologists who worked alongside Dr.Helen and the ophthalmic team.
In Orissa Dr. Shiva’s TN team moved some of their work to a site outside Sambalpur town, making all the tribal patients very happy, preferring as they do, to be surrounded by forests. A new Operation Theatre was completed on this site. Second Sight surgeon Andy Richards who has worked with Dr. Shiva in the past returned for a brief visit.
2011 - World Sight Day October 13th
More than just a commemorative day, Vision Express India funded all the cataract operations carried out at the Akhand Jyoti Eye Hospital on this day.
Tickets donated by Chelsea FC funded one hundred more operations.
This was a fantastic year. In Bihar, the Akhand Jyoti Eye Hospital at Mastichak and its satellite unit at Danapur restored sight to over 30,000 blind men women and children.
In the lead up to World Sight Day we decided to eliminate blindness altogether from 25% of all the diara islands in the river Ganges in Bihar. We succeeded. A huge triumph for the AJEH team and its numerous village volunteers.
Also in Bihar, Second Sight’s volunteer surgeons at Gems Christian Mission Hospital cured a further 3,000 blind people and trained three surgeons.
The Trilochan Netralaya Hospital in Orissa carried out over 8,000 operations many of these providing sight to tribal patients in areas where no other eye team is willing to go.
Our ophthalmologists, optometrists and orthoptists taught on the new Diploma of Ophthalmic Technicians’ Course (DOT) started at the AJEH in July. The course will provide the much-needed paramedics of the future.
The Akhand Jyoti Football Academy which trains, feeds and educates girls who in the past were married off by the age of 15 went from strength to strength. These girls will become part of the DOT course in a few years time. Two girls from the Akhand Jyoti Football Academy made it into the Bihar State under 16s team.
English teachers joined our volunteer-force and spent a substantial amount of time at both the AJEH in Bihar and the TN in Orissa.
A new ward was funded at both the AJEH and at the TN.
A significant year. We linked up with the Akhand Jyoti Eye Hospital in rural Bihar and pooled our extensive knowledge of the state. Together we planned both the total eradication of blindness in the state and the establishment of fully-fledged ophthalmic units in the heart of rural Bihar providing all aspects of eye-care to the highest standards. In Orissa we linked up with the new Trilochan Netralaya Eye Hospital with its team dedicated to reaching the blind in Orissa’s most inaccessible tribal areas.
By the year 2007 it was clear that India’s blindness problem was now concentrated in the villages of Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa states with few organisations willing to work here. We decided to consolidate all our efforts in these regions.
In 2008 we actively recruited volunteer surgeons from the cities of south India, where there are plenty of ophthalmologists. With their help, the total number of operations we carried out rose to over 30,000. Working now exclusively in India’s forgotten areas, we knew that we were making a vital contribution to the eradication of blindness.
The main reason the blind were remaining blind in the rural areas of north India was because of the lack of eye surgeons. We supplied these doctors who:
- Operated on the cataract blind at 8 hospitals in 5 states, curing over 10,000 men women and children.
- Trained local ophthalmologists and paramedic staff.
- Collaborated on research. (In the year 2003, a paper from the Shree Bhairav Eye Hospital in Rajasthan, our first partner hospital, was accepted by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists in the UK).
In addition we:
- Supplied vital equipment, including microscopes and vehicles to transport patients.
- Funded cataract surgery provided free of cost to all blind patients.
The core of our modus operandi - providing visiting eye surgeons - left an important legacy. The presence of experienced visiting ophthalmologists at remote hospitals created a more stimulating working environment and attracted Indian ophthalmologists who previously would not have considered working in the villages. Most of our original partner hospitals are now successful at recruiting and retaining resident eye surgeons.