In August, the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation travelled to the Kingdom of Bhutan on a mission to eradicate cataract blindness to reduce extreme poverty. This is part of a collaboration between us, the Bhutanese Ministry of Health, and the Royal Government of Bhutan under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty Gyalyum Kesang Choeden Wangchuck.
The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation is committed to curing 1,000 patients of cataract blindness annually for the next 5 years to assist the Bhutanese government’s mission to heal the entirety of the nation’s backlog of cataract blindness.
The camp was an overall success with co-founders Dr Sanduk Ruit & Mr Tej Kohli in attendance. The team organised microsurgical camps over the course of three days in Phodrang to cure patients and also train local eye health specialists.
Tej Kohli and Dr Sanduk Ruit also met with Her Highness Majesty Gyalyum Kesang Choeden Wangchuck, the Royal Queen Grandmother of Bhutan, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, and Her Excellency Dechen Wangmo, Health Minister to the Royal Government of Bhutan. The teams were met with a warm welcome by the officials and delegates, and the program was met with great enthusiasm equally by officials of the health ministry and by those who received surgery.
One of the many who received the life-changing surgery was 47-year-old mother of three, Dechen. She had been living a content and quiet life in rural Bhutan with her three children. Dechen also ran a small shop on top of caring for her children and was fairly happy with life and with the way things were. That was until three years ago when her vision began to deteriorate.
When her vision began to fail, Dechen worried she would become completely blind. Her children began to worry about their mother once she started experiencing difficulties completing daily tasks. When a Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation screening camp arrived in her village, she was found to be living with severe cataracts. She was then invited for surgery at the Outreach Microsurgical Eye Camp (OMEC) close to her home.
At the camp, her surgery was performed successfully by Dr Sanduk Ruit, co-founder of the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation.
The following day Dechen was due to have her eye patches removed. It has become a tradition for a celebration to take place when the eye patches are removed. This tradition continued with Dechen who was extremely happy to receive a second chance to sight. Excited for her mother, Dechen’s daughter and other family members celebrated her restored vision, leading to a small but joyous family reunion.
So far, the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation has successfully cured 246 people in 2 days in Bhutan.