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Abdul Mahjid – a community advocate for eye health

Mr Abdul was able to make enough money to support his family as a tailor in West Bengal, India. Three years ago, his eyesight began to fade: “I am a tailor. Losing my vision meant I was going to be unable to work.” As Mr Abdul’s vision worsened, it became harder and harder for him to thread a needle. Before long, he had lost his vision completely, and worried deeply about how to support his family. Then Mr Abdul learned about an outreach camp organized near his home. He went and learned that mature cataracts were causing his blindness. He was also told that he could receive sight-restoring surgery free of charge at a nearby donor-supported eye hospital serving the poor.

Mr Abdul travelled to the hospital where he received surgery on his left eye. His cataract was removed and an artificial replacement lens was put in its place. “I can see again! I am able to return to my work as a tailor, and can again provide for my family.” But his story doesn’t end there. The hospital’s Director and outreach worker vividly recall Mr Abdul. “Some patients in our community are actually community leaders who are not in any official position, and Mr Abdul was one of them. He was so impressed by the services that he decided to contribute by referring more patients for surgery to our hospital, so that the benefit he received can reach the maximum of his community members.”

He returned home and immediately began to spread the word to friends and neighbours in his village, who also had vision problems. Many didn’t know that sight-saving eye care was available, or they had been nervous about traveling to the hospital for treatment. Mr Abdul took it upon himself to educate anyone he could find. He gathered 18 people from his community who were losing their vision, and brought the entire group back to the eye hospital. While there, Mr Abdul received surgery on his second eye, fully restoring his vision.

As the hospital director recounts: “He himself has given blessings to everyone now.”


Story and Photo credit: Joe Raffanti, Seva