Unlike children in Hong Kong, most Bangladeshi youngsters live in such poverty even candies, balloons or even the chance to cure eye diseases are all unimaginable luxuries. This July, seven Hong Kong Kids Sight Friends and their children joined a five-day "Parent-child See-n-Feel Tour" to Bangladesh that totally changed the way they looked at the world. "We are so lucky and should try to cherish and share what we have!", said one.
It takes as little as 25 minutes to restore sight!
While in Bangladesh, attendees visited an ORBIS partner hospital called Mymensingh BNSB Eye Hospital in a remote rural area where over 50% of people struggle to survive below the poverty line. Minimal pediatric eye care resources and knowledge sentence many kids here to lives of needless blindness. In trying to resolve this terrible tragedy, ORBIS has helped Mymensingh BNSB Eye Hospital to build a children's eye care unit. During their visit, donors witnessed a live broadcast of a pediatric congenital cataract surgery and were amazed to discover sight could sometimes be restored in as little as 25 minutes! Fifteen-year-old Hong Kong teenager Athena Cheung was incredibly moved when one young patient excitedly identified an electric fan in Bangla when the bandages were removed from his eyes two days after surgery. "They can finally see the same things as I do! From now on, I'll try to use the money I used to spend on luxuries to help ORBIS transform lives!"
A young congenital cataract sufferer in Bangladesh
Donors observe a surgery via a live broadcast
Young donors bring light to a little patient by removing post-operative gauze from his eyes
Achieving happiness is easier than it looks
In addition to training, ORBIS also works hard to ensure timely treatment by educating and building awareness. To this end, donors travelled to Sherpur district to observe a primary school screening, where they distributed corrective glasses and gave local students small gifts. "I was touched to see just how exciting a small candy we wouldn't think twice about giving to a child could be! No wonder parents here can do so little to help blind kids' suffering! As a Dad myself, I promise to do my best to share my love and help," said donor Mr Siu.
Saving sight is often a race against time
When visiting young sufferers at homes, donors shared gifts with young Bangladeshis like Musadica, a 5-year old girl whose congenital cataract was almost left untreated due to her family's poverty. Luckily, ORBIS discovered the girl's plight and restored her sight. Musadica's elder sister, Jui, wasn't nearly so fortunate and has sadly totally lost all sight due to late treatment. Musadica now says she wants to become a doctor and help restore the sight of needy people like Jui when she grows up. While all 15 Hongkongers were moved by the two girls' story, no one was more affected than 15-year-old Michelle who lost her sight in both eyes due to cancer while still a baby.
Let's learn to cherish life!
Though totally blind, Michelle loves her life. "Mum told me that the poor hut where Musadica's family lived was unimaginably poor compared to our cosy flat in Hong Kong. Despite my sightlessness, my parents have built a wonderful home environment and given me every encouragement to strive for my dreams. As Jui can no longer go to school, her future is nowhere near as bright. While I know I alone cannot do much, I will continue to try to help ORBIS bring sight and hope to as many kids as I can."
Friendship knows no boundaries!
All of our younger donors were very curious about meeting a blind girl like Michelle and soon became fast friends with her, using special braille cards to play games and taking great care of her throughout the trip. While at the primary school, they also enjoyed a fun-filled football match with local youngsters even though the sides spoke different languages and the ball was burst. In shaking hands when they said goodbye, the young Hongkongers treasured this friendship without borders!
Upon returning home, all of our parents and kids showed not only a much deeper understanding of our sight-saving work, but also a real desire to cherish and share what they have! Ten-year-old Olivia has decided to go one step further in spreading love and hope, "I want to join the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital as an ophthalmologist or a pilot when I grow up!", she told us.
If you and your kids would like to spread hope with us worldwide, join ORBIS "Kids Sight Friends" today!
Hong Kong parents and child visited young patients