Giving the gift of sight has become the clear vision of a Surrey teen and her family.
Years ago, Yogesh Bhatia and his brother were involved in various charitable organizations. But when his brother passed away, Bhatia decided to focus on one vision: Helping the homeless in India receive free cataract surgery to help them gain their eyesight back through Friends For Cause (FFC).
After having watched her father work full-time while pouring most of his own money into the project, Tanmai Bhatia, 14 (below), a Kwantlen Park Secondary Grade 9 student, decided the best way for her to pitch in was to help fundraise and make people aware of FFC.
“I saw that this year, they were planning to perform 1,000 surgeries and that my father needed help in order to raise the nearly $50,000 needed,” Tanmai said.
Although the Bhatia family only emigrated to Canada five years ago, Yogesh goes back to visit a different city every year in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, and through word of mouth, lets people know about the charity and the opportunity to receive the free cataract surgery.
This year, Yogesh will be traveling to the city of Vrindavan, where there is a high population of elderly widows with cataract issues.
Although doctors in the area are willing to volunteer their time, the specific medicines and equipment needed are expensive.
First a camp is set up for people to come and have their eyesight tested to determine those needing surgery. The patients are then taken to a nearby clinic to have the surgery done.
Tanmai gets emotional when talking about the project and the people who have benefitted.
“When I see the people after they have had the surgery, I feel really really selfish,” she said, her voice breaking. “Not because I have done anything selfish, it’s just that we as people so often just think about ourselves and we don’t appreciate how much we have.”
She said there is such a disparity between life here in Canada and life in India.
“In India, people are poor and they don’t have health services like we have here. People who need cataract surgery are so poor and often elderly… they can not afford the medical services that are available and they will become blind.”
For more information about the charity, visit http://bit.ly/1NIA5WX