Tag: India

Eyes For India COVID-19 Impact and Response

Eyes for India is the long-running It Is Written project restoring sight to the blind through cataract surgeries in India.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Jacob Prabhakar, Eyes for India ophthalmologist and medical director of Ruby Nelson Memorial Hospital in northern India, had to postpone planned Eyes for India surgeries and hospital services. We recently received a report from Dr. Prabhakar about the scope of the COVID-19 impact in his area and his team’s response to it.

Response to the Pandemic

“Eyes For India was progressing very well until March 21 when the pandemic set in, bringing all planned surgical activities to a standstill,” Dr. Prabhakar reports. “About 5,000 blind people who were scheduled and awaiting their turn for cataract surgery in various remote locations within India were disappointed that their dreams of getting their sight back through Eyes For India were delayed. We assured them that our services would resume once the pandemic settled down.”

Community response

Despite curtailed hospital services, the ministry of Eyes for India continued. Many migrant laborers in local villages were left without food and essential supplies during the lockdown. The Eyes For India team visited these villages and provided free food and essential items to about 50 families. It was such a joy to share the love of Jesus in this simple way.

Base hospital services re-opened 

Dr. Prabhakar and his hospital team worked diligently to reopen hospital services. He reports, “After ensuring all protocols for the safety of staff and patients were in place, the base hospital outpatient services began again on June 1 and surgical services started on June 14. The flow of patients at the base hospital has been steadily increasing.”

Screening centers

Due to safety protocols and staffing, the high-volume remote surgical eye camps of the past will not be possible for a few more months. Despite that setback, Dr. Prabhakar and his team have not stopped services altogether. 

Eyes For India has been operating satellite clinics and vision centers to conduct screening activities for future patients in seven strategic locations throughout the country. Services have been able to continue in three centers each week. It is expected that by September all seven of these satellite clinics will again become operational. Patients needing cataract surgeries will be registered in these clinics and will be given appointments for surgery. 

Surgeries resuming

Once surgeries recommence, Eyes for India will transfer about 10 to 15 of these registered patients each day to the base hospital for surgery. This will translate to about 75 surgeries performed per week and about 300 surgeries per month. This strategy will continue until regulations and infection rates allow for the resumption of our high-volume, on-location surgical camps. We are implementing the best practices to ensure the full safety of the staff, their families, and patients while attending to community needs. 

Even though the situation is unpredictable, we have scheduled our weekly surgical camps from September 13 onwards, hoping that the pandemic may settle down to a certain degree, allowing us to carry on our regular yearly schedule. It is our prayer that our services will resume full strength soon. 

Thank You 

While the current pandemic has changed things, Eyes for India is still moving forward. Dr. Prabhakar wants to personally share the following message to those of you who faithfully support this project: 

Thank you, dear donors, for your kindness and generosity that has literally transformed thousands of lives. Eyes For India is committed and strategies have been put in place to continue to serve people across needy communities amidst this changing scenario. The need for restoring sight to the masses continues to be great. 

I thank God for each of you. And with your kind help and support, we look forward to helping thousands who are desperately waiting for their sight to be restored. We are honored to share the precious gift of sight and share personally with them the love of Jesus. 

I remain truly grateful on behalf of thousands of blind who now see!

Jacob Prabhakar

It Is Written and Local Church Leaders Reopen Churches, Provide Community Services in India

After years in disrepair and closure, 53 churches in east central India have been reopened and spiritual, health, and social services have been initiated to keep them active with the help of It Is Written. In November 2018, It Is Written began an initiative with local church leaders to reopen 50 churches that had been closed due to lack of funding. The initial assessment was not encouraging. In addition to being without a pastor, the church yards were covered in garbage, windows were broken, and doors had rusted shut with no keys. Some churches were used to store tobacco or cotton while others were serving as shelters for beggars, sheep, and buffalo. Despite these discouraging odds, It Is Written representative Josephine Biegler, chose 53 churches to reopen. 

Local leadership team at one of the churches

To ensure the churches stayed open, new church leaders had to be trained and paid. Twenty-five Bible workers were selected and began training. They studied the life and teachings of Jesus; Bible doctrines; Daniel and Revelation; history of the church; world religions; health principle; the gift of prophecy; major and minor prophets; and the writings of Paul. Jack Phillips, It Is Written Bible Work Coordinator, traveled to India and conducted a special course on practical methods for giving Bible studies and reaching the local communities.

After thorough training, these Bible workers were placed in the villages to care for their two assigned churches. They cleaned each church, and professional repairmen made repairs and painted walls. Each church was given a new PA system, a culturally essential component to corporate worship. The Bible workers faced prejudice from community members because community members’ trust was damaged or broken when the church closed. 

Community health workers were hired to help the Bible workers overcome this prejudice. These ladies created a way for the Bible worker to enter the community with the gospel. Each worker was given training, a scale, stethoscope, blood pressure machine, and the book Where There is No Doctor in Telugu, the local language. The health workers check glucose and blood pressure levels, care for fevers, and bandage wounds. They taught about cleanliness and educated the villagers about the harmfulness of tobacco and alcohol. These women visited every home–Hindu, Muslims, and any other religion–praying for the suffering at the end of the visit. Some of the villagers accepted Christ because of the health workers’ invitations.

Newly opened churches began conducting night literacy classes in 26 of the churches. Eight adult literacy volunteers taught basic reading and writing along with Christian songs. They also prayed with the students and encouraged each to come back to the church on Sabbath. Through their efforts, people accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior through baptism. 

A United States sewing ministry partnered with the churches to offer sewing classes for local women. The ladies learned how to make garments, were given a brand-new sewing machine, and were invited to accept Christ as Savior. They left the class spiritually fed and with training to become financially independent. 

The health and social services were augmented with spiritual resources. Students from an Indian theology school conducted a three-day evangelism program in each of the 53 churches. Their program helped support the Bible workers in reaching the unreached and gathering the scattered members. These students visited the entire village, prayed with everyone they could, and invited the community to the meetings at the church. Later, another seven-day revival meeting occurred in 10 of the newly opened churches. These meetings were targeted to the local youth. They learned songs, Bible stories, and skits and left encouraged to be the strength of the new churches. Many young people gave their lives to Jesus Christ through these meetings. The younger children were not left out. Last summer, over 60 days, two college students conducted Vacation Bible School in 20 of the reopened churches. They worked with the village children, taught them new songs and Bible stories, and made crafts. Nearly 800 children participated. 

Earlier this year, the It Is Written Eyes for India program conducted a medical camp for 100 villages including the 53 villages with newly reopened churches. Medical physicians from the United States provided free medical expertise and partnered with local nursing students. Over 2,300 patients were treated, over 4,500 people were screened for cataracts, and 927 were selected for cataract surgery which began on February 24. 

During the month of February, two It Is Written mission teams traveled to India to hold revival meetings at 20 locations covering the 100 villages that also received medical care. Over the course of the month, approximately 4,500 people attended these meetings throughout the sites. God poured out His blessings, and 1,197 people accepted Jesus into their hearts.

And the work hasn’t stopped. Ongoing plans include quarterly meetings conducted by a local Indian evangelist to cover spiritual growth topics like the Sabbath, stewardship, continuous soul winning, children’s Sabbath school, and health. The churches continue to hold youth ministry events and widow prayer ministry activities. Every quarter, the church will also conduct an eight-day training for elders to equip them to serve the church and community. And 48 more churches have been selected for reopening and have already been cleaned. In May, the It Is Written Hope Awakens sermons were translated into seven Indian languages and livestreamed in Facebook to the entire local area. Thousands have seen the broadcasts.  

The infrastructure is established to ensure these churches stay open for many years to come and continue growing and serving their communities with the love of Jesus. The treasurer for the local church in India writes, “Thank you It Is Written for entrusting us with the resources we desperately needed to reopen churches….Thank you Ms. Josephine and the It Is Written team for everything, and we request that you continue to support the work we are determined to undertake here in India. God bless you all.”

This project was made possible through the support of It Is Written donors. To donate to future It Is Written mission and humanitarian projects, click here and select “It Is Written Missions.”

Bible workers and community health workers

Eyes for India camp

Eyes for India team brings sight to the blind in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh

Eyes for India: Over 1500 People Receive Sight

The Eyes For India team was invited to a Hindu temple this January to do the work of Jesus in opening the eyes of blind people. From January 3 to 17, the medical team conducted cataract eye surgeries in the remote forest village of Hardiakol, district Barabanki, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. Led by Dr. Jacob Prabhakar, It Is Written’s humanitarian Eyes for India project seeks to restore sight to the 15 million blind living in India through a simple cataract surgery and intraocular lens implantation. “This initiative will help as many as possible and restore their hope and sight,” said Dr. Prabhakar.

More than 2,500 blind people initially registered for treatment, and 60 percent of those were blind in both eyes. Most patients are very poor with hardly any warm clothing and must travel long distances by road and train. Thick fog created zero visibility and caused trains and buses to be canceled. Many patients who had initially registered were unable to return for treatment. Most of the patients that did make it back to the temple slept outside on sand and hay that served as beds as they awaited their turn for surgery.

Once treatment began, 250 patients were called for surgery each day. It Is Written Partner Dr. Jason Leng, an ophthalmologist from Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute, Chehalis, Washington, participated in the mobile camp for the second time. Dr. Leng, Dr. Prabhakar, and the rest of the medical team completed diagnostic tests for each patient and then the cataract surgery with an intraocular lens implantation. Postoperative patients stayed in a makeshift hall for care, postoperative dressings, and instillation of eye drops. Patients were discharged on the second postoperative day with specific medications and dark protective glasses. The patients are called for postoperative follow up each week for the next six weeks and then advised on the use of bifocal glasses.

By God’s grace, the eye camp was a huge success, despite many unforeseen challenges. A total of 1,672 cataract surgeries were performed, many for children and young women who are the breadwinners of their homes. The patients who missed their operation due to weather are scheduled for surgery during the month of March.

But providing eyesight is only the first step in the the work of our medical team. About 80 percent of the state’s population are Hindus, and 18 percent are Muslim. Many of these patients have never heard about Jesus. Patients were given the book Steps to Christ in their own language and a health booklet. The team prayed with patients and conducted worship services daily in the temple complex.

“Thanks are due to the Eyes For India sponsors for their generosity in making this possible,” said Dr. Prabhakar. “The smiles and the joy the patients demonstrate following surgery is noteworthy! They go back home being able to carry on with work and their daily livelihood. Leading an independent life makes all the difference. We are so grateful! Eyes For India has been such a blessing and we thank God for this amazing ministry.”

Thousands of lives have been changed in just days by a simple eye surgery. People who were once blind are now able to see because of the kindness of many donors who make this happen on a regular basis. Join the Eyes for India team in bringing sight to the blind by donating today.

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