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Sunday, 26 February 2017 00:00

Regain Clear Vision with Cataract Operation

Written by  Teh Yuan Ying & Ng Wei Kiat, Sabah / Translated by Lim Ching Chuan

While waiting, volunteers posed for a group photo with the patients, who have treated them like family members. [Photograph by Ng Wei Kiat]

For three days from February 24, 2017, Tzu Chi volunteers went to Hospital Kota Belud, Sabah, to extend their care and provide food and transportation subsidies to villagers who were at the hospital for free cataract treatments. A total of 50 patients have benefitted from the operation.


It was during early December 2016 that Samuel Joseph, Assistant Director of Medicine, Hospital Kota Belud, approached Tzu Chi volunteers for help. Upon learning that the hospital would locate and assist the cataract sufferers in the remote areas to seek medical help to regain their vision, volunteers were happy to participate in this mission. Besides providing food and transportation assistance for these poor villagers, volunteers also went to Hospital Kota Marudu, Hospital Kota Belud, Hospital Ranau and Hospital Kudat in January and February to follow up on the screening and assessment of patients, and to confirm the number of patients who needed cataract lens subsidies.

“Are you going to dig out my eyes? Will my eyeballs be removed?” asked the poor villagers during the screening, evidently full of doubts and fear owing to lack of medical knowledge about the cataract surgery. Their worries were relieved with explanations from the volunteers and medical personnel.

Home visits in remote areas

To understand the villagers’ living conditions, volunteers together with local medical team from Hospital Kota Belud went to the remote villages for home visits on February 18, 2017. As volunteers were unfamiliar with the place and could not understand the native languages, the local medical team offered to lead the way and bridge the communication gaps between the volunteers and the villagers. They would also ask for directions to the patients’ homes whenever they met a villager.

“My children are not here with me, so I could only support myself by planting some vegetables,” declared Linduman, a cataract sufferer, when volunteers visited him at his dilapidated wooden house. Linduman, who lives alone, had to live with a meagre social welfare fund when the weather was too dry for growing crops. Volunteers provided him with timely care and encouragement when they learnt about his dire situation.

Cataract treatments made possible

On February 25 early morning, volunteers drove to Hospital Kota Merudu to assist in the mission. On arrival they saw many patients waiting for their turn to get treatment, and the medical team was there to register the patients and take blood pressure readings. Volunteers joined the medical personnel in verifying the patients’ details, besides serving them food. They also seized the time before the cataract operations to greet the patients and show their concern for the patients’ physical conditions.

“I am very grateful for Tzu Chi volunteers’ assistance to put these villagers at ease for the operation,” expressed Dr Eddy Tong, Director of Hospital Kota Belud, at the opening ceremony. He was grateful for the volunteers’ cooperation in accomplishing the mission together.

“Sabah has the highest number of blind and amblyopia cases in the whole of Malaysia,” informed Samuel Joseph. He added that the majority of the Sabahan patients suffering from eye diseases are living in villages deep in the mountains. Thus, Tzu Chi’s financial assistance has played an important role in enabling these poor villagers with transportation issues to receive treatment at the hospital.

Harmonica performance and dance

The melodious harmonica performance by volunteer Chak Chee Wah calmed the patients who waited patiently at the hospital waiting lounge. Volunteers also encouraged the patients to dance to the music of the native songs, filling the air with joy. The friendly and warm interactions brought the volunteers and patients together like a family.

“I am truly grateful for your help,” said Rose, daughter of Linduman, who accompanied her father to the hospital for the cataract operation. She praised the volunteers for their thoughtfulness and care, and commented that it would be impossible for the many villagers living in remote villages and suffering from eye diseases to come to the hospital for treatments without the volunteers’ help.

“Restoring the patients’ eyesight is a mission money cannot buy,” said volunteer Cheong Yuen Ching, who has been providing love and care to the villagers throughout, from screening to the completion of the operation. It was hers and the volunteers’ wish to help these patients regain their clear vision.



Before leaving for home, some patients hugged the volunteers to express their heartfelt appreciation. The volunteers’ selfless companionship has been rewarded with genuine smiles on the patients’ faces, which warmed their hearts. To quote Master Cheng Yen: “The fruit of giving willingly is joy.”

 

Together with the local medical team, volunteers went to remote villages to visit the cataract patients at their homes. [Photograph by Ng Wei Kiat]   The medical personnel performed a preliminary check on the patients prior to the cataract operation. [Photograph by Teh Yuan Ying]

Together with the local medical team, volunteers went to remote villages to visit the cataract patients at their homes. [Photograph by Ng Wei Kiat]
 
The medical personnel performed a preliminary check on the patients prior to the cataract operation. [Photograph by Teh Yuan Ying]
 
Volunteer Chak Chee Wah is seen here entertaining the patients with a harmonica performance of some native songs to ease the patients’ anxiety and boredom while waiting for the operation. [Photograph by Ng Wei Kiat]   Volunteer Cheong Yuen Ching encouraged the patients to dance to the song, filling the air with joy. [Photograph by Ng Wei Kiat]

Volunteer Chak Chee Wah is seen here entertaining the patients with a harmonica performance of some native songs to ease the patients’ anxiety and boredom while waiting for the operation. [Photograph by Ng Wei Kiat]
 
 
Volunteer Cheong Yuen Ching encouraged the patients to dance to the song, filling the air with joy. [Photograph by Ng Wei Kiat]
 
Rose Linduman appreciated the volunteers’ efforts in solving transportation issues for the patients living in remote villages. It had also enabled her father to receive treatment at the hospital. [Photograph by Ng Wei Kiat]   Samuel Joseph thanked Tzu Chi volunteers for the great support, which had enabled the cataract patients to regain their clear vision. [Photograph by Ng Wei Kiat]

Rose Linduman appreciated the volunteers’ efforts in solving transportation issues for the patients living in remote villages. It had also enabled her father to receive treatment at the hospital. [Photograph by Ng Wei Kiat]
 
 
Samuel Joseph thanked Tzu Chi volunteers for the great support, which had enabled the cataract patients to regain their clear vision. [Photograph by Ng Wei Kiat]
 
A patient hugged volunteer Fong Yoke Moi to thank the volunteers’ help and care. [Photograph by Teh Yuan Ying]  

A patient hugged volunteer Fong Yoke Moi to thank the volunteers’ help and care. [Photograph by Teh Yuan Ying]