Editor’s Note: Eyes for India is the long-running It Is Written initiative restoring sight to the blind through cataract surgeries in India. Every year, Dr. Jacob Prabhakar, ophthalmologist, and his medical team hold an eye surgery camp at a temple in Northern India. He shares the following report from the recent event held in January.
The temple camp conducted every year in a remote village—Hariakol of Barabanki, in the most populous and poverty-stricken Indian state of Uttar Pradesh—is the highlight of all community services rendered by the Ruby Nelson Memorial Hospital. This unique mega eye camp (resumed for the first time since 2020 due to the pandemic) creates a tremendous impact, in that Hindus steeped in superstitious beliefs acknowledge Christ’s methods of medical ministry and are convinced that this kind of phenomenal healing they witness year after year is possible only through a God who is very much foreign to them. Praise God for this window of opportunity!
Despite a cold, misty night and a 24-hour journey in the It Is Written-gifted bus, loaded heavily with medical supplies and equipment, navigating at times through zero visibility, the spirit and enthusiasm of the medical team was not dampened. Their commitment to serve the poor against all odds is a blessing.
Patients also traveled long distances in the biting cold, mostly on foot, carrying the blind and the disabled either on shoulders or makeshift beds, while others reached the campsite on two-wheelers, buses, or trains. To these marginalized poor in the far-flung areas of North India, the free eye camp is a flickering ray of hope that will make their dream of restored sight come true. This drives them to brave the risks and challenges of an arduous journey through forest lands in inclement weather.
We are motivated to complete these camps by the high success rate of a seemingly simple cataract surgery that can drastically transform lives. Having understood the importance of holistic health, the temple priests, volunteers, and camp organizers are receptive to the distribution of spiritual and health literature and health and hygiene talks.
The eye clinic opened early every morning. We screened, on average, 500 people every day and carefully selected for surgery the bilaterally blind—those with hypermature, hard cataracts which over time will turn into a permanent, painful blind eye. The selected patients then undergo a detailed preoperative workup and undergo surgery for cataracts, wherein they are implanted with an intraocular lens, under sterile conditions.
The pandemic necessitated the implementation of additional safety protocols such as rapid COVID-19 antigen screening tests, social distancing, and vaccination mandates. The provision of COVID PPE kits and other safety preparedness, a thoughtful and kind gesture of It Is Written, kept the medical team safe under the circumstances.
The backlog of patients encountered this year loomed greater than before, on account of the ongoing pandemic, which kept those who needed help indoors and prevented them from seeking timely medical attention. Moreover, the surgeries were also reduced to 200 per day due to the COVID restrictions on spacing of beds. It was truly a sad moment when nearly 2,000 patients registered for surgery had to be turned away for want of time and surgical supplies.
Despite these setbacks, a total of 2,628 people received the precious gift of sight. Praise God! The operated patients with sight restored beamed with joy as their hearts swelled with sincere gratitude to the It Is Written sponsors. They left the camp praising God, knowing that they can now lead independent lives and earn their livelihood.
God has been gracious and merciful in helping us make a difference by touching lives and restoring sight. It has brought health and healing not only to the receiver but a greater blessing of joy and achievement to the giver as well.
Thank you, It Is Written, for this amazing ministry in enabling us to reach the unreached.
Learn more about Eyes for India here. Support Eyes for India with a fundraiser kit, which includes everything you need for a successful fundraiser. The kit is free; only pay for shipping. Order one by clicking here.