“I really wanted to work to provide for my family. But I needed help with just about everything.”

Pin Phat (75) has always worked hard and provided for his family. But now he had become dependent and lonely. He had cataracts in both eyes, through which his world became so small that he could not even see his own outstretched hands. “When I examined Phats eyes, he told me he needed his wife for everything. That was tough for the whole family”, says ophthalmic professional Keo Pheara, who visited Phats village.

Phat and his wife have a large family and many (great-) grandchildren. Phat even lost count of them all. The whole family lives in the village of Koh Bomnherl, in the poor province of Mondulkiri (Cambodia). They grow rice and corn. This also serves as staple for all children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. With so many mouths to fill, the family needs all the help they can get to work the land. Phat wanted to contribute instead of being dependent on others. But his wife You Len, 60, could also not work and care for the little ones now that she had to be there for her husband. At every step and every activity Phat needed her. The village where they live is very remote. You can not get there by car. It was impossible to go to the nearest city for medical assistance. Phat and his family had to try to save themselves.

Pheara found that Phat had cataracts in both eyes, but that he could possibly see again after cataract surgery. He could go to the hospital in the capital of Sen Monorom. This hospital has no ophthalmologist who can perform operations, that is why doctor Hong visits twice a year from the neighbouring province of Ratanakiri. And the timing was right, he was there! Pheara said that doctor Hong could receive Phat the following day for surgery on his left eye. “I asked him what he was most looking forward to when he could see again. His answer came quickly: his youngest grandchildren. He had never been able to see them.” What a wonderful outlook!

It was quite a challenge for Phat and his wife to come to the hospital. The trip took six hours. First, they had to travel a long way at the back of a moped along with their sons, following a dirt road and many small trails to get to the river. Along the way they had to get off multiple times, because the road was 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 this time he could not imagine that he would walk back over this bridge all by himself in a few days, after surgery!

A day after arriving at the hospital, Dr. Hong performed cataract surgery on Phats left eye. After surgery Phat was a different person. Or rather, he was finally himself! Beaming with joy, he walked through the hospital all by himself. He looked at his surroundings, was able to walk the streets and 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 awaiting them. It was a big party, with a lot of happy faces. And the look on Phats face when he saw all his (back) grandchildren … It seemed like he met them for the first time.

Watch the story of Phat:

Phat retrieved his vision, his family and his independence. Now he and his wife can resume work and provide for their family. With each cataract surgery that you donate, you change the life of someone like Phat and his family. For 35 euros you can provide vision to a cataract patient. Will you help us?

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