CBI & Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital Empower Women
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By Jessica Bachman
Stepping off the bus at Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, as part of a group of 17 CBI volunteers, we were greeted by warm sunshine and smiling members of the hospital staff. They presented us with marigold necklaces, a gesture to welcome new guests, and led us excitedly on a tour of the hospital.
It was amazing to see how much work has been done to eliminate and prevent avoidable blindness in India and how much work is still being done. In partnership with CBI, eye centers like Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital in New Delhi and LV Prasad Eye Institute in Bhubaneswar have continued to grow in the number of patients they treat and the research they conduct, effectively diminishing the number of blind people in India who cannot afford or reach the care they need. Regardless of a patient’s ability to pay for their care, they were all given the same care, and quality was never compromised.
My favorite part of our trip was when we got to meet and chat with young women who were part of the CBI-supported Certified Ophthalmic Paramedic (COP) Program at Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital in New Delhi, India. These women were recruited from rural villages surrounding New Delhi and offered the opportunity to get a free education with a fruitful career afterwards. Not only did this program expand the number of patients the doctors were able to see, but it also enhanced the quality of care each patient received. Furthermore, the COP program empowered these young women to be independent and vital members of their family and community. I could see the confidence developing in these young women as they expressed how overjoyed they were to be independent and able to help contribute to their family’s financial needs.
Throughout our travels in India, we experienced first-hand the difficulties many people have getting to locations to receive the healthcare they need. We traveled to one town, Vrindavan, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where a schoolhouse was transformed into a screening center. Patients did not have to travel far, and both COP women and doctors evaluated them to see if they could be treated at the site or if they needed further intervention. Free transportation was provided to these patients so that the more complicated cases, such as those requiring surgery, could be treated at larger facilities.
I could see how CBI’s support to organizations like Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital and L.V. Prasad Eye Institute helped them create a system to reach the maximum amount of people all over India, as remote as they may be, regardless of their ability to pay or not. Moreover, every patient and staff member I talked to expressed how grateful they were for CBI’s support, and the opportunities it gave them to fight and eliminate blindness throughout India.