To mark her fourth year as ORBIS Sight Ambassador, May, 2012 saw Sandra Ng make her first trip to Gansu. Having already visited Inner Mongolia, Indonesia and Vietnam with ORBIS, Sandra is well aware of blindness' core problems and has seen sight miraculously restored many times. A chance to make a maiden visit to the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital (FEH) on one of its last voyages was a major highlight of her trip.
While Spring is always a busy time for Sandra to accompany her tiny daughter at home, she always sacrifices a few days to join our overseas sight-saving missions. Although she has already journeyed to three developing countries, Sandra's trip to our pioneering Flying Eye Hospital in Gansu was a very special one.
"I'll never forget my first sight of the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital from the airport parking lot! While I have been overseas with ORBIS before, this was my first visit to this plane during a mission! Actually boarding the plane and witnessing surgery on board was a literally eye-opening experience for me! It's amazing to think that while the aircraft looks just like any other plane on the outside, inside there's a fully functioning hospital! In addition to a Classroom, its many state-of-the-art facilities include not only a Laser Treatment Room, but also a Surgical Area and a Recovery Zone", said Sandra.
One of the key aims of Sandra's trip was to see why we so urgently need to replace our current Flying Eye Hospital which has been in service for 18 years. As a result, Sandra spent several hours chatting with the crew. Towards the end of the day, Sandra noticed that before everyone went off-duty, they all helped to clean the entire aircraft from tip to tail! "No matter how important their positions, everyone pitched in with the cleaning! I was incredibly touched by such unity. While it's been so long since I've done any housework that I probably wouldn't know one end of a vacuum cleaner from another I loved being able to play my small part! Ultimately, it made me feel like a valued member of the team", Sandra added.
As always, Sandra traveled on a long trek deep into an all too often neglected rural area. After a five-hour car ride from Lanzhou City to Yongjing County, Sandra and the ORBIS colleagues found themselves struggling to breathe thin air around 2,000 meters above sea level.
While in Yongjing, Sandra visited several younger patients including a six-year-old boy called Choco who has suffered from Strabismus since birth. As a Mum herself, Sandra was moved by the boy's plight and showered him with motherly love and care. "I was overwhelmed by Choco's dignity and bravery. Because of the squint in his right eye, he has to bend his head awkwardly to simply see something you or I wouldn't think twice about. As a result, his little shoulders have become all twisted and he is continually hurt by the mocking of other kids. It's heartbreaking to discover that visual impairment can destroy one's body and soul as well as one's sight!", said Sandra.
Every time she accompanies ORBIS overseas, Sandra packs several cases of gifts, food and treats for the people she meets. This time, she even gave a simple English lesson when she handed out presents to kids at a local primary school.