Blog submitted by Liz Sheppard
Liz is the Director of Corporate Partnerships at ORBIS International.
It is hard to believe I am finally in India - Jaipur - to see the amazing work that ORBIS does. I arrived after a long journey, and several really long lay-overs, including 6 hours of sitting on the floor in the Mumbai airport in the middle of the night. This is my first trip with ORBIS. I am not a doctor or a nurse, I work to raise funds so the organization can increase its reach to help those whose sight is severely impaired.
Jaipur is a city of contrasts. Many are poor, few are wealthy. In this city of over 2 million, over 20% live on less than $1 US a day. Although it is not as clean as many Western cities, Jaipur is beautiful. It is ringed by high hills on all sides and is known as the pink city. Textiles, jewelry and hand made paper products are some of the outstanding products produced by the people of Jaipur.
We are here to restore sight to children and adults, although we are concentrating on girls, as they tend to be less likely to receive medical attention than boys. We are working both on our Flying Eye Hospital, as well as through two hospitals, one government run and one that is private.
I grew attached to Reena during our surgery screening process at the government-run local hospital. Reena is 13 and in 9th grade. She was born with neurofibroma, and developed more complications after she was born. Her family had been told at least three times that her condition was inoperable. Today she received surgery in our flying eye hospital and wait until you see her after photos in a few days. Remarkable. Our volunteer, Dr Carter from Iowa, was able to remove her fibroma, and lift her lid so she will be able to see out of her left eye. You can see from the picture below that I was with her before and during her surgery. What a trooper! Unlike most kids I know, she hardly complained or acted scared before her procedure. She told our interpreter that she will feel more confident and secure both with her family, in public and in school post-surgery.
I feel honored to have met such a brave girl, and meet her relatives who have trusted us and placed their child in our hands. Reena came out of surgery with flying colors. I was able to visit with her uncle a few times during her surgery to tell him "Namaste" and let him know how Reena was doing.
Keep visiting our blog for more pictures of Reena and other patients we are helping through our Alcon sponsored program in Jaipur, India. We are off to Udaipur for a day on Friday with some Indian royalty who are anxious to visit our programs there, and will have pictures of our activities there as well.
I hope you enjoy this post and learning more about the incredible work ORBIS does around the world. For more information, please visit www.orbis.org.
Photos by Michael Meier