Truly living my passion of helping others in need

CBM Australia Foreign Aid Worker in Nepal supporting sight saving surgery

Author: Nicole Denton

12 years ago, I came to a point where I knew I had to make some changes to my life and work and to truly live out my passion of helping others in need. I started pursuing non-profit roles so I could use what gifts I had to make a difference in the world.  Fast forward to today where my weeks are filled with helping CBM raise the money it needs to help the poorest of the poor – those with a disability living in poverty and I love and am privileged to do what I do.

I love my job, but sometimes, honestly, I get so caught up in the day-to-day grind of work and being a mum to two young children that I can lose sight of why I made the decision to leave the corporate sector all those years ago.

In March this year, a chance meeting with a young girl reminded me of why I made that change in my life.   

I travelled to a small village in Nepal, on the border of Northern India with a team from ACCTV and one of our supporters Lyn Wake, to film a documentary. 

While at our partner Eye Hospital, waiting for filming to finish for the day, I spied a young girl shyly peaking at me from behind a pillar. When I smiled at her, a beautiful grin spread across her face. 

As she stepped out from behind the pillar, I noticed one of her eyes was almost fully white – a sign of a severe cataract.

When I asked our Field Worker about her, he told me her name was Reena – that she was 11 and she had just finished having her eye examined and will be going into surgery the very next day. Reena did not live far from where we were staying and her family invited us into their home to hear Reena’s story.

Driving through dusty streets, we pulled up outside a small shack, less than 25 metres from the border of India.  We were invited inside a small room, that doubled as a bedroom and living area where Reena’s mother Meena and father Akash greeted us warmly.

An hour later, I emerged from the house with tears rolling down my cheeks.  Their story had touched me deeply.

It turns out Reena wasn’t actually their daughter.  In fact, she had only been living with them for 12 days when they brought her to the hospital for an eye examination.

Meena and her husband had tragically lost their own daughter, at age 13, to an undiagnosed case of Scrub Typhus.  A photo of her took pride of place in their home and Meena and I cried together as she told me her story.

Like any mother Meena did all she could to get her daughter the medical care she needed.

However, unfortunately, her daughter was misdiagnosed on two occasions and by the time, she received the treatment she needed, it was too late. Meena’s daughter died. Her heart was broken. Mine too.

She told me how she yearned to give her motherly love to another child.

Meena’s sister who lives a few towns away told her about Reena, a little girl in her village who had been abandoned by her mother and was being neglected by her alcoholic father. Upon meeting Reena, Meena knew that she was called to help this child, to give her a safe home filled with the love and care she so desperately needed.

They noticed straight away the milky white colour of her right eye and soon realised that she was slowly going blind in that eye.

A village elder told them about the CBM supported Eye Hospital, they went there seeking help for Reena and that’s where I first met her spinning around a pole, just 12 days from joining her new family.

I witnessed Reena having her cataract surgery, and was there with her family for the moment when her eye patches came off and she could see again. A moment that will stay with me for many years to come.

It was because of the amazing support of generous Australians, that this beautiful little girl not only has a family to care for her – she also received the Miracle gift of sight-saving surgery. I feel so honoured to be asked into this wonderful family’s life and privileged to be able share this wonderful story.

This year, through Miracles Day, you can help give 40,000 people the sight-saving surgery they need to see again.

Miracles Day gives Australians the opportunity to give someone the Miracle gift of sight, with a 12-minute operation costing just $33. 

Miracles Day happens across Australia on August 15. To find out more or to donate, visit cbm.org.au/miraclesday