Srey Samorn is 60 years old and works on the land in a small village in Cambodia. She shares a small house with her family. Everyone helps farm the land and her daughter sells nuts in a stall by the main road.
About five years ago Srey woke up and her right eye was painful. When she looked in the mirror she saw that her eye was drooping. Due to acute glaucoma the pressure in her eye had suddenly become very high. It left Srey blind in her right eye. When this hardworking woman noticed a year later that her vision in her left eye was deteriorating she began to panic.
“I noticed that my vision was deteriorating and I couldn`t do my work properly. Preparing food also became a problem. My grandchildren often joked that I was clumsy. I was afraid to walk alone during twilight because my house is secluded and there are a lot of bumps in the paths. I tripped a few times. Because I was afraid to fall and could not look after myself or the house, my granddaughter often stayed home from school to help me. Someone in my village told me that there was a new eye clinic in Svay Rieng Province, where poor people could receive free eye care. I travelled to the clinic by motorcycle taxi with my granddaughter and nephew”.
The nurse said that nothing could be done for Srey Samorn`s right eye. In her left eye she had a cataract, the world’s most common cause of blindness. In most cases it can be fixed with a simple surgical procedure. Srey Samorn had surgery on her eye that very morning. After surgery she sat on a bed with her granddaughter and her cousin to recover from the operation. Because her eye was covered by a protective cap and she was blind in her other eye, she could see nothing. She felt around anxiously with her hands and calmed down when she found her granddaughter`s hands. “I was so scared. I could not see anything and feared that the operation had failed and that I was totally blind.” Srey wanted to lift the cap covering her eye to check whether she could see, but her granddaughter held her hands tightly and said “Do not pull the cap off grandma. The doctor says that you have to leave it on until tomorrow.”
When the doctor arrived the next day he removed the cap and Srey cried out “I can see! I can see all of you! I can finally see everyone and know who I’m talking to.” Her relief and joy are overwhelming. “I’m going to tell everyone about this eye clinic. Thank you all. Now I can carry on with my life. My granddaughter can return to school and I can get back to work.” Srey has a smile from ear to ear.
The ophthalmologist examined Srey’s eye to see whether the operation was successful. It looked very good. The vision in her left eye was recovering well.
Srey returned home that same day, where the rest of her family was waiting for her. Her grandchildren arrive by bicycle. They brought fruit to celebrate their grandmother`s return home. “Look how beautiful my grandchildren are! Now I can play with them and admire them.”
Eight people live in the little house. They cook and sit downstairs and sleep in a room upstairs. The upper space is divided by a curtain to make a separate room for the children. Srey`s daughter says “We do not have much money and get can just get by with what we earn. We are very grateful that there is good free eye care available for us.”
The family is happy to have grandma back!