Thursday, April 15, 2010

Another Ray of Sunshine!!

Given the way our government and economy seem to be imploding, good news is hard to come by these days. But there are some shining moments out there if you can just ignore the ranting and raving for a bit and be open instead to news of good people doing good things.

I wrote not long ago about Greg Mortenson's projects in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and earlier about my friends who do volunteer work in Africa. Here's another uplifting example.

His name is Dr. Sanduk Ruit. He is a Nepalese ophthalmologist who has restored the sight for thousands of rural poor in Nepal. A skilled surgeon, he could have left Nepal and had a very lucrative career in Europe or the U.S. Instead, he chose to remain in Nepal and devote his life to alleviating the burden of blindness of those who could never afford a surgical procedure of the sort practiced in the developed world.

Ruit has pioneered a simple and inexpensive technique of cataract surgery that he has taught to surgeons around the world, resulting in the restoration of sight for an estimated 3-4 million people. He estimates that he personally has performed 100,000 cataract surgeries in his 30-year career. Restoring the sight of people in developing countries is particularly beneficial, given the difficult quality of life for someone with a disability, and the extra burden such a person places on family and community.

I first became aware of Ruit's work through an MSNBC story that focuses on the heartwarming case of Raj Kaliya Dhanuk, and elderly Nepalese woman who traveled for days to reach one of Ruit's mobile surgical camps.

"For nearly a year, cataracts have clouded out all sight from the 70-year-old grandmother's world. With no money, she assumed she'd die alone in darkness. But now she waits quietly outside the operating room for her turn to meet Nepal's God of Sight [Ruit]
'I am desperate. If only I could see my family again,' she whispers in her native tongue. 'I feel so bad when I hear the baby cry because I can't help him. I want to pick him up.'
...Dhanuk, who's the size of a 10-year-old child, is carried in and laid on the table. She cannot see Ruit or the visiting Thai surgeon who's practicing the technique on patients across the room.
"I'm afraid," she says, worried it won't be successful. Her long silver-streaked hair is pulled into the scrub cap, and thin golden bangles glow against her dark, cracked arms.
But she lies still and silent. All she really wants is to be able to feed herself again, go to the toilet alone and get back to her chores. She doesn't want to be lonely and frightened in one of the world's poorest countries, where life is as harsh and rugged as the Himalayas that shape it...
The next morning at the eye camp in Hetauda, Ruit stands in front of the hospital in the warm sun looking at five rows of about 200 patients from the day before. All of them, bundled in worn shawls and knit caps, have eye patches waiting to be removed.
Dhanuk is third in line on the front row. As soon as the bandages are removed, her face fills with life. She leaps to her feet smiling and pulling her hands to her chest in a prayer position, a traditional Nepalese way of giving thanks.
After nearly a year of total blindness, Dhanuk drinks in the blue sky, the green grass and all the other patients around her. She easily counts fingers, and then Ruit asks her to squeeze his nose if she can see it. It only takes a second for her jump up and grab it with both hands. Applause erupts in this moment Ruit calls the power of vision."
As I said, a Ray of Sunshine!

1 comment:

PaddleDoc said...

Nice! I met a group of eye docs in Nepal who were sponsored by the US Lions Club. Great people going through the rural villages doing great good!