The last of the sun’s rays cast over a small village near the India-Bangladesh border. Nurbhanu is finishing up her final house call of the day.
As a community health worker with Operation Eyesight’s Community-Based Eye Health Project in West Bengal, India, she is used to working late into the evening.
Tomorrow, a team from Siliguri Greater Lions Eye Hospital (SGLEH), Operation Eyesight’s partner hospital, is holding a screening program in the village. Nurbhanu’s job is to promote the screening and ensure that those identified during an earlier door-to-door survey attend.
Nurbhanu (whose name means ‘Lady of the Light’) has made a mark for herself in her community, bringing light to villages primarily inhabited by Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh.
Being from the same community and from an Orthodox family, Nurbhanu was a bit hesitant to take on the job at first. But, with her husband Mohamed’s endless encouragement, she has done tremendous work in a difficult area.
Since she began working as a community health worker two years ago, Nurbhanu has conducted more than 14 screening programs. Through these programs, she has helped more than 1,600 people receive an eye examination, 450 people undergo surgery and 320 people receive glasses.
Most of the beneficiaries have been Muslim women who now look to Nurbhanu for their family’s eye health needs.
Nurbhanu’s successes have not come without sacrifice. She spent 25 days away from home to undergo rigorous training conducted by Operation Eyesight and SGLEH staff. Most days she travels many kilometres on bicycle, comes home late and then cooks dinner for her children.
Convincing Muslim women that their children should undergo immunization, and counselling patients who are otherwise reluctant to undergo surgery has not been easy. Yet Nurbhanu continues to deliver, day after day.
Mohamed is proud of his wife and the work she is doing. “It’s painful to see those who cannot see what they have on their plate to eat,” he says. “But my wife helps those elderly to see clearly what they eat after their treatment.”
He is extremely happy to support his wife in her activities. Nurbhanu on the other hand is grateful she is able to live up to her name!
Nurbhanu plans to train to become a vision technician. Once she has finished her training, she will work in a vision centre in West Bengal, examining patients, prescribing eye glasses and bringing light to those who would otherwise go needlessly blind.
We commend Nurbhanu for her unwavering commitment to eliminating avoidable blindness, and her part in our work! You can also read about Nurbhanu’s colleague, Rama.