Stories of Hope: Sushma from Nepal

Imagine hiking for two to three days through the difficult terrain of the Himalayan mountain range simply for an eye exam. For years, this has been the reality for the resilient villagers of Humla, Karnali district in Nepal. In this isolated part of the world, where road connectivity is still an unrealistic goal, meet a 14-year-old girl who suffers from bilateral cataracts. She is determined to be the village’s only fight for education. Her journey involves not only regaining vision, but also breaking down obstacles and achieving academic success against every challenge.

A few months ago, the life of 14-year-old Ms. Sushma Bohora, hailing from the remote Humla district in Karnali province, took a significant turn. A diagnosis of cataracts in both her eyes revealed a challenging path ahead. The critical diagnosis came to light when she visited the Primary Eye Care Center in Simikot, Humla, supported by the Eye Care Foundation.

Sushma’s family, including her parents and four siblings, resides in a village located half a day’s walk from the district headquarters. Her father shoulders the financial responsibilities as a farmer, while her mother manages the household. Sushma had been struggling with poor eyesight for three years, but due to her limited awareness of her condition, she initially kept her visual challenges to herself. She continued her education with blurred vision, believing it was normal. However, as time passed, her eyesight deteriorated, impacting her studies and school performance. As the only child in the family with access to education, her persisting eye issue threatened her chances of a better future. Realizing this, Sushma and her parents sought assistance from the eye care center in Simikot, Humla.

Humla, nestled in the hilly and mountainous region of Karnali Province, is among the most underdeveloped parts of the country. Its residents heavily rely on agriculture and domestic work for their daily needs, as road transportation is limited. The lack of motorable roads means that people often have to trek for 2 to 3 days to reach their destinations. In this challenging environment, the absence of regular domestic flights and the high cost of air travel present additional obstacles. Consequently, many residents must endure health issues arising from poor or untimely treatment. Due to financial constraints, some people in Humla have no choice but to live with poor eyesight or blindness.

In Sushma’s case, after being diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes, she was advised to visit the eye hospital in Surkhet. Unfortunately, due to their financial difficulties, the family couldn’t make the journey to the hospital for the necessary surgery. They turned to the Primary Eye Care Center in Humla, where Mr. Bum, the Ophthalmic in-charge, informed them about an upcoming surgical eye camp in the upper Karnali province. The family attended the camp, and thanks to the dedicated team at Surkhet Eye Hospital, Sushma underwent a successful cataract operation.

Following the surgery, Sushma returned to the Primary Eye Care Center for her post-operative check-up. According to Mr. Bum, the Ophthalmic in-charge, Sushma’s sight has been restored, along with her confidence. She is a bright and intelligent student with aspirations to achieve great things in her life and support her family in leading a better life. Sushma is now overjoyed and no longer dependent on her parents and friends. She and her family extend their heartfelt gratitude to Surkhet Eye Hospital and the Primary Eye Care Center in Humla for making this life-changing transformation possible.