We have organised over a dozen Medical Camps, in Kalandri, over the last decade. Of these 14 medical camps, 11 have been for eyesight, with 700 successful cataract operations. It is my personal experience and I may be wrong, but sight seems to be the most important sense to a person. Especially once you become old and infirm. Post 75 or 80, people end up with a number of ailments and disease. It could be knee pain, back aches, losing teeth, inability to walk or eat besides the mental burden of becoming heavily dependent on others. The aged are ready to withstand, bear and adjust to all kinds of pain, but not the loss of sight. Probably it is one of the most essential senses which helps them relate to the world. Given the fact that they were able to see for a better part of their lives.
Today, medicine has made great strides when it comes to matters of the eye. In cities eyecare and eyewear is accessible to most. In villages either the knowledge doesn’t exist, distances are too great or means not present, to avail of what has become common to the urban man. Therefore holding these free Eye Camps gives me immense satisfaction because the transformation is simply miraculous. The look on their faces when they can see again is the best gift anyone could ask for.
This year too there was an overwhelming request that came in from various quarters to hold an Eye Camp like before. Due to Covid it was not possible last year and I felt very guilty about it knowing how precious sight is. Therefore as soon as the opportunity presented itself we immediately set about organizing the camp. It was scheduled for 23rd Dec, 2021, in the memory of my late father Premchand Manaji. He himself was a philanthropist in his own right.
Awareness was spread 72 hours before the camp via local news channels, print media and canvassing by Jeep, across 26 villages, in and around Kalandari. On 23rd morning, sharp at 8.45a.m., there was a massive queue of over 450 people. One of the first challenges we encountered was to get Corona vaccination certificates for each patient. 24 hours before the camp we were notified by Global Hospital, Mount Abu that it was a prerequisite and rightfully so. At the very last moment it did put us into a tailspin. How do we notify 26 villages that the camp had either been cancelled or postponed, in a day?
I have to call out the efforts of the Modi government in developing and launching CoWIN. What deserves appreciation must be appreciated. The mammoth task they must have undertaken and the logistic support required to painstakingly update records of those vaccinated, in our large country, must have been daunting. We today, are reaping the benefits of it. A laptop and printer were set up at location. Believe it or not with the Aragoya Setu App we were able to download 300 vaccination records based on Aadhar card and mobile numbers. Imagine these are records of people living in 26 Indian villages. Hats off to the government.
After the initial screening of these 300 folk, those who required glasses were fitted with a free pair on the spot, those who needed medicines were provided the same and those requiring cataract operations were sent for a blood tests and health check. 47 people were found eligible for cataract surgery. By 4.30p.m. the 47 patients were taken by bus to the Global Hospital in Mount Abu. Dealing with villagers is a different ball game. Living in close quarters with the earth, there is a certain level of sanitization required, considering how delicate this operation is. All of this was diligently handled by the hospital staff. Their food and stay were taken care off and operations completed the very next day. 24 hours later they were discharged post a medical check and returned back to their villages, with the ability to see again.
I have deep gratitude for the team of doctors who lent their time and expertise, as well as the management of The Global Hospital without whom this camp would not have been possible. There is a deep sense of achievement to have been able to hold the Eye Camp this year which we could not last year. Now looking forward to 2022 and the possibility of the next eye camp. Thankful to have eyesight and the ability to give others the gift of sight. Ending 2021 on such a bright note with so many blessing.
Wishing you all a Corona free 2022!
Opinions in this piece belong to the author: Ramesh Kumar Shah
Ramesh Kumar Shah is the founder of the RK Group, founder of RK Trust (rktrust.in) and co-founder of Harvard Business School Angels of India. Apart from being a businessman, he is keenly involved in making as much of a difference in people’s lives as he can, most recently through the Let’s Mask India initiative, that provides a free mask to all the residents of Bangalore.