Eye health care along the Brahmaputra

A young woman hugs an older woman, who is wearing protective eyeglasses and appears to be wiping away tears. They both smile.
Written by Caroline Wagner, published on April 9, 2024 Donate Today

Reaching the remote village of Kachikata in Assam is no small task. The journey from Jorhat, the nearest city, begins by jeep on rough roads leading down to the Brahmaputra River. From there, travellers climb onto a tiny ferry, big enough only for a handful of passengers, that takes them to Majuli Island. After the boat arrives on the island’s shores, the journey continues by motorcycle, tractor or bullock cart to reach the village.

This makes medical care difficult to access, especially for seniors like Gadami.

For six years, the grandmother lived with cataracts in both eyes. As her vision worsened, she became reliant on family members to help with even simple tasks.

“There was no doctor, no eye camp, nothing,” says our Program Manager Tapobrat Bhuyan, describing the community when he first visited it in 2021.

Six people sit or stand on a small boat that is crossing a wide river.
Health workers take the small ferry to Majuli to run an eye screening camp for those living on the river island.

When community health volunteer, Dipen, met Gadami during a door-to-door screening, he referred her to a nearby eye camp. There, she was diagnosed with bilateral cataracts, and agreed to make the long journey to Jorhat, where she received sight-restoring surgery at our partner hospital, Chandraprabha Eye Hospital, free of charge.

Gadami’s granddaughter, Junu, was by her side to comfort her during the hospital stay and share in her joy when the bandages came off.

Back in Kachikata, Gadami’s world has opened up. With her independence restored, she can once again walk around the village, visit friends and fully enjoy her time with her grandchildren.

Watch a video about our work on Majuli Island!

Video screenshot with title "Brahmaputra India" over people on a boat on a river.

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