Pin Phat (75) had always worked hard and provided for his family, but he had become dependent and lonely. Cataracts in both eyes had severely limited his world. He could not even see his own outstretched hands. “When I examined Phat`s eyes, he told me he was completely dependent on his wife for everything. It was hard on the whole family”, says ophthalmic nurse Keo Pheara, who visited Phat`s village.
Phat and his wife have a large family and many (great-) grandchildren. So many in fact, that Phat cannot keep count of them all. The whole family lives in the village of Koh Bomnherl, in the impoverished province of Mondulkiri in Cambodia. They grow rice and corn, which has to feed all the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. With so many mouths to fill, the family needs as many hands as possible to work the land. Phat wanted to contribute instead of being dependent on others. His wife You Len (60), was also unable to work and care for the youngest children since she had to look after her husband. Phat needed her assistance with everything he did. Their village is very remote and cannot be reached by car. It was impossible to go to the nearest city for medical assistance, so Phat and his family had to take care of themselves.
Pheara determined that Phat had cataracts in both eyes, but that cataract surgery could possibly restore his sight. He was referred to the hospital in the provincial capital Sen Monorom. The hospital does not have its own ophthalmologist to perform eye operations, which is why doctor Hong visits twice a year from the neighbouring province of Ratanakiri. And the timing was lucky, because he happened to be there! Pheara told Phat that doctor Hong would able to perform the surgery on his eyes the very next day. “I asked him what he looked forward to most once he could see again and he was quick to reply. Seeing his youngest grandchildren. He had never been able to see them.” A wonderful thing to look forward to!
It was quite a challenge for Phat and his wife to reach the hospital. The journey took six hours. First they had to travel a long way, on the back of their sons` mopeds, over a dirt road and small trails to get to the river. They had to get off and walk regularly, because the road had been washed away by the heavy rains. The bridge over the river was also missing. Pheara picked them up at the river and helped Phat over a makeshift bridge of woods and logs. At that time he could not imagine that in a few days, after his surgery, he would walk back over this bridge all by himself.
A day after arriving at the hospital, Dr. Hong performed cataract surgery on Phat`s left eye. After surgery Phat was a different person. Or rather, he was finally himself again! Beaming with joy, he walked through the hospital all by himself. He looked at his surroundings, was able to go out into the streets and he played with the children staying at the hospital. When Phat and his wife returned to the village on the back of the mopeds, the whole family was waiting for them. It was a big party with a lot of happy faces. And the smile on Phat`s face when he saw all his (great-) grandchildren was priceless. It was as if he was meeting them for the first time.
Watch the story of Phat:
Phat regained his sight, his family and his independence. Now he and his wife can work and provide for their family again. Every cataract surgery that you donate, changes the life of someone like Phat and his family. For 35 euros you can help a cataract patient regain their sight. Will you help us?
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