I would like to share a story with you about an exceptional encounter I had with a cataract patient in Laos.
A few months ago I was in Laos for Eye Care Foundation to counsel Dr.Oui, the director of a hospital in the province of Houaphan, and his team. Dr. Oui has asked me to let you know how grateful they are for your support. Elderly cataract patients in particular are in need of your help.
The elderly in Laos participate fully in daily life and continue working for as long as possible with the rest of the family to take care of each other and to provide income. But cataracts make them dependent on others even when they are otherwise fit and healthy.
Your support gives these people and their families a new start in life.
For example, people such as Soutthida (70 years old). Five years ago, together with Dr. Oui, I gave her surgery during an eye camp nearby the small town of Mueung Cham. A few months ago, we wondered how she was doing and decided to pay her a visit. When we arrived in Mueung Cham, we had something to eat first, as is customary in Laos. We had brought photographs with us and were pleasantly surprised when the restaurant owner recognized Soutthida and knew where she lived. We drove to a remarkable village further on, where the houses were built on stilts and there were looms under each home. Walking through the rice paddies, we arrived at a set of stairs leading to a small home.
Luckily she was at home. I remembered Soutthida well, although her smile seemed different. The reason for that soon became clear when she told us that she had recently received new dentures. Together we looked at the pictures taken five years ago and she loved them. Meanwhile, her grandchildren had gathered around us curiously and listened to their grandmother`s stories.
With a gift of 35 euros for a cataract operation, you are giving a grandmother like Soutthida and her grandchildren their lives back.
Soutthida is once again weaving full-time and makes colourful clothing. The money she earns is needed to support her grandchildren and to buy school supplies and clothing.
“I am growing older and my neck is stiff, but my eyes are still fine. At seventy, I can still do everything by myself and, since my cataract surgery, all the colours are so beautifully clear again.”
Suddenly Soutthida jumped up and took us to see a friend who lived a few doors down. There we saw an elderly woman who was almost completely blind. She was sitting on the ground in front of her house eating quietly and could hardly see the food on her plate.
She had advanced cataracts in both eyes and was in urgent need of surgery. We squatted next to her and a tear rolled down her cheek when Soutthida explained who we were and what we could do for her. Dr. Oui promised to perform her surgery the following month.
I was happy to see Soutthida fully participating in her family`s daily life. But cataracts had made her friend completely dependent and were causing her to become isolated and lonely.
And she is not the only one. There are many people living in isolated villages in Houaphan who are unable to work due to cataracts. Their contribution to the family income falls away and instead they become dependent. And only too often it is the grandchildren who have to help their grandfather or grandmother and cannot go to school as a result.
This is not what grandparents want for their family and something needs to be done. A simple cataract operation can change everything.
This is why I am asking you to please make a donation today. With 35 euros you are donating a cataract operation which will drastically change the lives of someone like Soutthida and her grandchildren. Of course we will be very happy with a donation of any size.
You have our deepest thanks in advance for your concern.
Cees van der Windt,