If I became blind, I might not feel inclined to keep up with my daily chores. How about you? However, that wasn’t the case for 75-year old Deevanamma.
“In spite of her blindness, she never sits idle,” neighbours told us admiringly.
Deevanamma and her husband raised five children in the small Indian village of Ungamath. She always had problems with her vision, but was able to cope until her husband died. Then, she moved to Fatehnagar slum in the city of Hyderabad to live with her daughter Silvarani, her husband and their three other children.
Like many of us, Deevanamma started her day by attending to the household chores each morning after her family left for work or school. However, her vision steadily became worse until she was unable to do any housework at all.
A community health worker diagnosed Deevanamma with cataract, but she refused to visit a clinic for a check up or surgery. Deevanamma told the health worker, “I am blind due to old age. I am waiting to die and will die as I am.” Given her age and overall poor health, her family didn’t insist.
Soon she was totally blind and needed help to meet even her basic needs. Kind neighbours had to help the frail senior by carrying her to the toilet, washing area and so on. Life was grim for this poor lady.
Fortunately, Deevanamma’s life was about to change. A community health worker named Saritha heard about the blind senior. Even though she was on vacation, Saritha made it a point to meet Deevanamma, and was able to convince her and her daughter that she should be examined at the local Operation Eyesight-sponsored vision centre.
Deevenamma was taken in her grandson’s auto-rickshaw (a three wheeler) to the vision centre, where she was diagnosed with bilateral cataract. She was referred to an Operation Eyesight partner hospital, Kishor Chand secondary level eye hospital, for further check up.
Her grandson helped her to the hospital, where she finally agreed to undergo cataract surgery for both eyes, one after another. I am happy to report that she regained her vision!
Today, Deevanamma laughs and says that now that she can see everything again, she is happy to perform her chores faster. She blesses Saritha for helping her. Her laughter brings smiles to the neighbourhood, including Saritha, who persistently followed up with her.
Community health workers like Saritha help direct vulnerable people to vision care services every day! Learn more about Operation Eyesight’s innovative community health worker program.