Women Blindness in Pakistan
Pakistan is a male dominated society where women have last call on family resources. Their healthcare needs have lesser priority and as 2/3ds of the population lives around the poverty line there is never any money to get them treated. Women are the anchor of the family. They are the nurturers and carers of children. And when a mother loses her vision the family breaks up with many husbands abandoning their disabled wives with disastrous effects on the young.
Conscious of this LRBT has in its 25 years of operations focused especially on female blindness treating 10.3 million women which has significantly reduced the extent of female blindness. As a consequence female blindness at 51.4 % is considerably below the developing countries average of 64 %. However this is still higher than their proportion of the population which is 48 %. So continuous efforts are needed to reduce it further and this is where you can help. Help us help them. Donate generously!
Kiran, a 28 years old girl is the sole bread winner of the family consisting of her mother and two younger siblings. Her father died when she was only 15 and since then she has worked in a factory to support the family, earning Rs. 7000/ month. Despite her limited resources, she was determined to educate her brother & sister and refused to marry till it was over. Her brother finally got his Bachelor’s degree last year and after delaying her wedding for years, Kiran finally surrendered to her mother’s wish. The wedding was fixed for December. She was actually looking forward to the big day as she was tired of her struggles and wanted to settle down but then a calamity occurred. One day, she went to a friend’s wedding wearing cheap colored contact lenses that broke when she casually rubbed her eye causing severe damage to her cornea turning her eye greenish due to infection. She went to several doctors but in vain and she completely lost vision in her eye. Now the only hope was corneal grafting - a surgery which she just could not afford. Kiran was very upset as she feared that upon finding out about her eye her in-laws to be would probably call of the wedding. She says, “It was the toughest period of my life as on one hand I had lost my eye and on the other my engagement was on the verge of being broken”. Then one day someone told Kiran about LRBT’s free eye hospital and she immediately went there. She was advised Keratoplasty, a surgical procedure where a damaged or diseased cornea is replaced with a donor cornea. The staff was compassionate enough and put her on their priority list. Her prayers were soon answered as 2 weeks later she received a call from LRBT. The hospital had received four corneas from a donor organization in Canada and Kiran was one of the four lucky patients who were successfully transplanted.
"It is a miracle. I can never stoppraying for LRBT as it is a beacon ofhope, a safe haven for the poor."
When Jago bibi turned blind she had no option left but to beg on streets for survival. She is a mother of 4 married children, two sons & two daughters, and to raise them single-handedly after her husband’s early death, she struggled throughout her life working as a house hold maid. But now when she needs support, she sees no one around. Tearfully she told us that she was abandoned by her children upon turning blind as they had to help her to perform the smallest of tasks.
65 years old Jago bibi started to lose vision many years ago and had become dependent on her children and grandchildren for moving around. Initially, she started getting shadows in her eyes, and gradually her sight faded and she could not see. Her children started getting annoyed by her calls for help and treated her harshly. And one day, when her sons forced her to leave the house, she was left with no choice but to beg on streets to feed herself. She always feared running into an accident and restricted herself to a foot path and often starved. One day, she was trying to cross a road when a motorcyclist hit her and she fell down. The rider was a young boy who came to her help immediately and upon inquiring he found out that poor Jago bibi could not see. Fortunately, he knew about LRBT free eye care hospital in Korangi and told her to visit the facility to get herself examined. Jago bibi visited LRBT the very next day and upon her examination she was diagnosed with cataract that required immediate surgery. She was given a date for surgery and was operated successfully. When her bandage was removed she said joyfully,
“I am relieved and happy to have my full vision back in both my eyes. I am looking forward to
being able to doing simple things at home on my own. I’m overjoyed as I’ll be able
to live with my grand children once again without being dependent on them”
Nine years old Sajida lives in a small town called Qasba colony in Karachi. She fell seriously ill when she was six years old and her vision had become so poor that she had to be helped around her home;she couldn't even play with her friends. But her father Khalil being away for work and visiting only once a week the child’s illness was ignored until one day he came home and found her lying on the floor with very high fever. Khalil was horrified and rushed her to a government hospital where the child was treated but the long ignored disease had badly affected her eyes. The government hospital doctors sent them to a private hospital for eye treatment where Sajida was under treatment for 2 years and Khalil was compelled to leave work. In fact, he had to borrow money from his relatives, but instead of improving her condition got worse to the extent that her left eye ball popped out of the socket due to serious infection. Poor father was alarmed and this is when he was told to rush Sajida to LRBT.
Upon arriving to LRBT hospital in Korangi, Sajida was given emergency treatment. She was operated the same day and the doctors had to remove her left eye ball as the infection had spread. Sadly her left eye could not be saved but the doctors are hopeful that they would be able to save her right eye by performing a complicated surgery called Keratoplasty that requires cornea donation.
Khalil who also tried to commit suicide after seeing her daughter’s condition is now hopeful and is waiting for a donor’s cornea as her daughter is now on the top priority of LRBT waiting list.
Khalil says, " It is difficult to believe that two years ago our future prospects looked unlikely to amount to more than begging on the streets. I am now hopeful that after her surgery Sajida would come back to leading a normal life and this would give me enough strength to restart my work again. I am lost for words to thank the doctors & staff of LRBT for their kindness & generosity. Ill pray for them till the day I’m alive”
Gulshan Nawaz is a 10 year old girl belonging to a poor family in Quetta residing near Staff College Quetta Cantt. Gulshan was dropped out of school as her teachers complained that she has started to face difficulty in reading & writing. Her parents took her to a local eye doctor who advised her corneal transplant owing to her eye disease which would cost them Rs. 100,000/- The poor parents brought her back as they could not afford the cost and accepted their daughter’s blindness as her fate. Her parents were hurt every time they saw Gulshan sitting in a corner all alone but were helpless. And then they found out about LRBT Quetta hospital where Dr. Saeed examined the young girl and told the parents that she could see again only if her cornea is replaced, a procedure that was yet to be introduced in the hospital. Few weeks later, they received a call from the hospital that LRBT Quetta now has introduced this facility and Gulshan is going to be their first lucky patient. Her surgery was performed successfully and before leaving the hospital Gulshan exclaimed cheerfully “ Now I will be able to play with my siblings and go back to school. Thanks to the kind doctors, staff and donors for giving me God’s greatest gift – Sight”
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