Clear Eyes and Jobs for Women in Rural Bangladesh

by Project Orbis International Inc (Singapore) Ltd Vetted since 2017 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit Site Visit Verified
Dr Rokhsana
Dr Rokhsana

Dr Rokhsana is a Paediatric Ophthalmologist at Deep Eye Care Foundation in Rangpur, Bangladesh. Dr Rokhsana received a one-year fellowship at Chittagong Eye Infirmary and Training Complex, a longstanding Orbis partner and the only training centre in Bangladesh for developing human resources in paediatric ophthalmology. There, she learnt techniques in paediatric eyecare, including cataract (cloudly lens) and strabismus (misalignment of eyes).

Our Senior Program Manager, Clare Timbo, met Dr Rokhsana in her recent visit to Bangladesh. Here, she shares her chat with Dr Rokhsana:

What was your motivation to become an ophthalmologist?
My husband was my inspiration, he was always very committed to doing something more for society and as a doctor so was I. He talked me into studying ophthalmology and because I love children, I decided to study paediatrics. I am very proud to work alongside my husband. When a person is blind and you help to make them see again, it’s amazing to see the look on their face when they come out of surgery. It is so inspiring.

What is your daily schedule like?
Since we live on the premises, I get up early and then go over to check how things are going at the hospital. I do my daily clinical sessions from 8-9am with my trainees and then I have clinical hours and perform surgeriesuntil the end of the day. I like to deliver more formal lectures about twice a month as well, to larger groups.

How does it feel to be a female working in this sector?
Gender inequality is still present so working in this field as a woman and a leader, it can be hard sometimes. At times, male patients have less faith in female surgeons or want a man to provide them care. But acceptance is increasing and it seems to me that more women and children prefer to see female doctors. Female doctors can provide motherly affection in a way that men cannot.

What is your vision for Deep Eye Care Foundation?
I want to continue to improve my skills and knowledge so I can do more for my patients and continue to reach others. There are many more advanced techniques I wish to acquire. I want to further my education as it helps me to improve and thus improve our hospital.

How aware are communities in your region about eye health?
When we deliver outreach activities, we also do a lot of health education and that helps to improve awareness in the community. They learn about what type of treatment is available and what to do when issues come up. It seems to me there is an increase in the knowledge of the community in where to seek eye care.

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We are heartened to hear about Dr Rokhsana's passion for helping the community and her drive to improve herself so that she can help even more people. In Bangladesh where it may be challenging for women to work as professionals, we are happy to support and inspire women to develop skills and confidence to progress professionally. 

Thank you for making this possible!

Dr Rokhsana with her patient
Dr Rokhsana with her patient
Kalpana checking the eyes of a patient
Kalpana checking the eyes of a patient

Dear friend,

Today, I’d like to share the story of how Kalpana, an Orbis trainee, rose from a teenage girl with just higher secondary school education to heading a Vision Centre.

Kalpana was born in Singimari Babupara village in Rangpur, northern Bangladesh. Her father is a farmer and her mother is a housewife. Kalpana excelled in school and she dreamed of being a policewoman ever since she was a little girl.

However, as the eldest daughter of the family, she had to stop schooling to support her family. Traditionally in rural Bangladesh, girls are discouraged to study or work as professionals.

Instead, Kalpana joined Grameen GC Eye Hospital, an Orbis partner hospital, in 2006, to supplement her father’s income. There, she had to chance to participate in two one-year training courses of Aravind Eye Care System in India.

After the Orbis-supported trainings, she could conduct eye examination, refraction services, counselling and more. When she returned to her native village, her neighbours went up to her to ask her to check their eyes! They no longer disapproved of her job and even encouraged her to continue doing the good work.

Now, many years later, Kalpana leads the Orbis Vision Centre in Singra. Kalpana enjoys her work very much and said “I’ll continue this service work as long as I live.”

Thanks to your donation, other women like Kalpana can lead a fruitful and meaningful life earning their own keep, being financially independent and helping their friends and neighbours at the same time.

Thank you for bringing light to and empowering women in rural Bangladesh, for telling them that they are capable of so much more. 

With gratitude,
Jasmine

Kalpana with a patient
Kalpana with a patient
Kalpana outside the Vision Centre in Singra
Kalpana outside the Vision Centre in Singra
 

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Organization Information

Project Orbis International Inc (Singapore) Ltd

Location: Singapore - Singapore
Website: https:/​/​www.orbis.org
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Jasmine Ng
Singapore, Singapore

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