Jyotirgamaya means “Towards Enlightenment” in Hindi, and that is what the students call the Certified Ophthalmic Personnel (COP) program at Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital (SCEH) in New Delhi, India. This program is addressing one of the largest problems in providing eye care, lack of qualified personnel, with an exciting twist that also addresses the issue of gender equality in India. The COP consists entirely of bright, young women from the rural areas that surround New Delhi.
While attending the program, these women are not only trained in ophthalmic skills, but are also holistically educated in life skills to become strong, empowered women. The COP students fill a variety of necessary roles in eye care, including nursing assistants, vision technicians, ophthalmic counsellors, optical dispensers, and more. These secondary roles free up more time for doctors and surgical technicians to perform sight restoring surgeries, while still ensuring that patients receive world-class care. Since its inception in late 2014, SCEH has seen a marked increase in surgeries performed, patients screened, spectacles distributes, and patient interaction and follow up.
While they learn these technical skills, they are also taught self awareness, goal setting, decision making, creating personal values, critical thinking, and positive communication. Everyone who has experienced the program, either as a student or visitor, agrees that these young women are dramatically transformed in their confidence and world outlook.
We partner with SCEH to provide these students with a small living stipend to ensure that they have the economic independence to continue their education and make an impact against preventable blindness. Imagine the difference created in their lives as they transition from young girls raised in rural India to confident, professional women working with a career in eye care. Combat Blindness International wishes the best for these women as they continue their studies towards “enlightenment.”
Click here to learn more about our work in South Asia.