TWECS 2023: JAIPUR India
TWECS 2023 Jaipur, India
It is important that people are aware of TWECS eye camp. Our hosts have put up banners in the community to inform as many people as possible.
FROM OUR TEAM LEADER
This is my fifth trip with TWECS…the first time as team leader and wow what an amazing team…we could not have accomplished our mission without having 15 superhuman team of doctors and volunteers.
We saw over 5000 patients in nine days of clinic. Well done team👏👏
We had many bumps on the way with our biggest hurdle being our glasses stuck at customs and coming up with a plan B on the spot. Not once did the team waver and everyone went above and beyond expectations!!
Throughout the nine days of clinic I’m always reminded every moment why I am here. From the -14.00 pair of glasses for a teenager who can now see the world around her a little clearer to a simple pair of readers for an elderly woman who can sew again:)
As team leader I had the opportunity to see all the diverse cases and thankful that our team of doctors and volunteers were able to help so many of our patients either through a pair of glasses, medicated eye drops or cataract surgery.
In addition to thousands of pairs of glasses that we fit we were able to provide cataract surgery to three children aged 10, 11 and 13 two of them siblings…brother and sister.
The siblings had been living with blurred/loss of vision since the age of 5 and the 13 year old for the past few years. We were able to provide the care that they would not have received otherwise. Their families were very grateful to TWECS for giving their children the opportunity to live more of a “normal” life that these kids deserve.
I can’t wait to come back with TWECS again to continue to provide the gift of sight with a simple pair of glasses:)
An unforgettable experience…namaste!
Dr. Annu Kaul
SHANTI SHARMA (MY SWEET MOM).
I have not been to India since I was a kid in 1975. In addition to the fulfillment and impact of serving the thousands of people we’ve seen on this TWECS eyecare mission, it‘s an incredibly deep honour being in the homeland of my parents.
Throughout the 9 clinic days, when working at the registration tables and dispensing glasses, I have been overjoyed to meet 47 Sharmas (my mom’s maiden name). In every case I’ve made a point to have my translator enthusiastically tell them “hey, we’re cousins!” It always elicits a huge smile.
And then I met my first Shanti. Wow! What a sweet moment when my translator told her she shared my mother’s name. A nice little extra human connection. And then five minutes later, a second Shanti. Loving this!
And then five minutes later, a third Shanti.
Now comes the sweet and the bittersweet together. Big breath.
The translator told me she had a son. A son who looked a lot like me. A son who recently passed away. My heart just stopped. And time stopped. And the universe stopped.
This sweet Shanti reached out and took my hand. I could see the never ending line of people behind her. But I was in absolutely no rush. I was going to hold her hand for as long as she wanted, as long as she needed. It was just the two of us in this incredibly special moment.
A moment I could never have experienced by reading a book or watching a movie. It could only be this incalculable moment, right here right now.
Afterward, I had to excuse myself from the registration table and went around the corner. Big. Hard. Cry.
Among the hundreds of great memories, this is was my most memorable TWECS moment. I hope Shanti enjoyed the care she received from our doctors and our team. I hope she is enjoying her new glasses. And I know in my heart of hearts she has been sharing this special story with her loved ones.
I’m deeply humbled to be here on this eyecare mission, far away from our comfortable corner of the world. I will give my mom the biggest hug when I get home. And I will hold her hand anytime she needs me.
A HUMBLE REMINDER
It speaks to the nature of TWECS volunteers that they continue to see beauty and joy in such challenging working conditions.
Most of the pictures we take and post are of happy people, colorful moments, and beautiful children. These are the memories we share, celebrate and will keep in our hearts.
But in the reality of each day of clinic the eyes of many of our patients tell a much harsher and sad story.
And though it saddened me to do it, I felt compelled to capture this reality in a photo.
While it is commonly said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, the eyes we examine here are a window into the difficult lives led by the poor in India. Trauma, infection, scarring, and eyes ravaged by the strength of the sun and the harshness of the environments are unfortunately extremely common. The overall lack of access to medical care compounds these problems.
It is sad to look into these faces, with the damaged eyes knowing that in many cases there is very little we can do to ease their burden. And even more heart breaking to understand this also represents the difficulty faced in day to day life.
I took these photos not to bring sadness to those who see it, but to bring an awareness of the reality of poverty and poor vision.
For me these photos are humble reminder of how truly fortunate I am.
Dr. Marina Roma-March + Dr. Brad McDougall
During a regular clinic day on a TWECS project, we tend to register over 600 people. Every interaction I have with a patient on this trip I consider special, but only one so far have I considered EXTREMELY special.
She was a sweet, small old woman, about 5 foot with a cane, who reminded me in many ways of my grandma. She didn’t yell or try to cut the line, she just stood patiently at the back, her ID card sandwiched between her praying hands.
My heart ached watching her small head peak out behind the line of men and smile at me with eyes so full of hope and gratitude. The ache in my heart grew stronger the more I watched her watch me, so I did what I would want someone to do if it were my grandma in line and called her to the front.
ID in one hand, cane in the other she slowly waddled to the front of the line, passing the line of men who refused to offer a helping hand.
“Ram Ram Mam”, I said in my sing sing voice as she reached my table. “Ram Ram Namaste “ she said back as she bowed her head.
I took her ID card and copied all her information onto the registration form. Ladi Devi, 87 from Sholawata. She couldn’t see anything under 20/400 and had cataracts in one eye.
I ripped off her paper and handed the registration form to her and said “ Shukria Mam Dhanhabat” as I stood up and rubbed her back. She grabbed my hands in hers brought it up to her forehead and down to her feet then stroked my face with her two hands saying Dhanhabat . “She’s blessing you” my translator said. In my eyes all I did was give her a piece of paper, but in her eyes, I gave her the ticket to a better life.
We have two clinic days left. We have helped nearly 4000.
The team is doing well.
I’ve always wanted to go on a mission trip so when Dr. Annu Kaul mentioned the TWECS mission trip I was so excited to go.
I didn’t know what to expect. I have met some interesting and wonderful colleagues and volunteers, whom I consider my new found friends.
To be able to give sight to those less fortunate and to see the smiles on their faces, when a simple pair of ready readers allows them to see up close is truly unbelievable. This experience has been so rewarding for me.
Thank you to each and everyone of you who has made this trip worthwhile. See you all at the next one 🙏 #TWECS for sight ❤️❤️❤️.
What a beautiful experience this has been. I am a first time volunteer with TWECS and wow, what an amazing organization this is.
Having been to India a few times before as a tourist, it has been so fulfilling to be immersed among the people who live here and get a small glimpse of how they live, love and laugh.
Working with such an amazing team of Doctors and volunteers has been wonderful. I do hope I get the chance to do this again.
Thank you Marina, Derek and all the team on the Jaipur India 2023 camp!
There is an traditional philosophical path to happiness in India called Karma yoga, and today I had a taste of it.
It is not yoga in the way you may think, as in moving your body, but rather in a way of giving something to others that may free them of a burden, or care, or want. At the same time you give to someone else, your action gives you a feeing of bliss.
We saw over 650 people today in the clinic, which is a punishing feat. Also to my feet. But there was one 14 year old girl that came into the clinic with an extreme amount of myopia, over 14 diopters. She was wearing an old pair of glasses that she came in with, but they were badly broken with one of the lenses completely cracked through the middle, and the other lens was so scratched that it almost looked opaque, like the windshield of a broken down car. She has no choice but to wear them, because without them she is profoundly functionally blind.
She came in led by her kind father, and he said she has been wearing them like this for the last couple years. Heart breaking. She was too shy to look directly at me or say anything at all to me. She looked like a little broken bird.
Here comes another example of the “magical God box” that i have experienced on previous trips like this:
Before I left Vancouver for this trip, I packed a small box of unusual low-vision magnifying devices and ultra-high random prescriptions. It is a small box, with only about 15 items in it. But today, for this broken girl , the box provided the perfect pair of glasses from a longtime Vancouver patient of mine, Carla, who recently had refractive surgery and no longer needed these glasses.
It was a literal one in a million chance that this synchronicity would happen. But it was perfect, and it was beautiful.
After fitting this girl with Carla’s old glasses, she and her father were both beaming. Her name was Priya- and with her new vision and the look of her new glasses, she stood up a little straighter, and she was actually able to look at me with a smile. Zoom in if you can on this picture and look at how perfect these glasses are for her. Thank you Carla. Thank you God. Thank you karma Yoga. With my feet and body exhausted, I felt bliss in the 35 degree heat.
Feeling thankful, and full (but at the same time have a rash between my fingers, a brewing case of athletes foot, skin strangely flaking off my back, and a stye on my lower right eyelid):