Eye health and running away from help

Stories | May 16, 2018

Sabene Gomes, a CBM Program Officer, shares an incredible story on eye health from her latest trip to India.

Read as she shares why some people run away from help, and reminds us why community education is so important.

The first thing I noticed about the women was their nose piercings. Decorative, and with a bright pink stone in the middle.

I was meeting the ‘Adivasi people’, the indigenous people of India, and I was immediately fascinated by them.

Then I realised their fear of cataracts and seeking help

Our CBM partner staff took time to explain to me that in this community the knowledge and understanding of preventing blindness and eye health conditions was quite low. As a result, the community shared a common fear of cataract surgery.

Then, almost right on cue, I witnessed this first-hand. An elderly tribal woman literally ran away from our partner community workers when they identified that she needed surgery.

So how does our project combat fear and ensure people can access the services they need?

CBM and our partners tackle social fear through raising awareness in the community. We provide screening and offer counselling to stop the spread of the shame around cataracts and cataract surgery.

Who informs the community?

Our Vision Guardians play an extremely important part in educating the community. They identify people who need treatment and counsel them to take up the services that are available, which in most instances are free!

Furthermore they accompany patients to the hospital to provide a familiar and comforting presence. 

Vision Guardians are on the front lines eliminating taboo and shame surrounding eye health. And they play a vital role in ensuring people access their post-operative care.

Visiting the various part of the project, I was most encouraged by how inclusive the services were.

Amazingly, our partner organises for eye-screenings to compliment access to services. They assist people with disabilities to access disability pensions and government support. And our partner even helps people submit their paperwork!

Yet, the inclusive support didn’t end there. I met many people who, after receiving treatment for their eye-health conditions, received more help.

Many had been assisted by our partner to access referrals to training institutes or to apply for small-scale loans.

From this I remember being encouraged that this project is providing an inclusive, holistic, and accessible service.  It ensures people have a better quality of life.

This project is funded by CBM Australian supporters.

Photo: Tribal women in India at a community visit.

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