Sharmila currently attends 10th grade and as she prepares for her final exams in English, she and her family recall that just two years ago, graduation seemed impossible. For years Sharmila suffered from congenital cataracts, meaning that there is a gene in the family whereby a condition can persist through generations, but due to a fear of being teased by students and neighbors Sharmila never alerted her teachers of her condition, a common problem in this part of the world. “It was very difficult to see with my eyes before [the] operation. I was not able to read, I was not able to walk alone. I used to cry very frequently because I had obstacles in all my daily activities” she recalls. Fortunately Sharmila heard about an eye camp through a radio announcement. Excited about the opportunity to see again she urged her parents to take her to the camp taking place about five to six km away from their home.
After attending the camp, the doctors advised her to go for surgery at Himalaya Eye Hospital (HEH) in Pokhara, approximately 2 hours away. After returning home to discuss the surgery with her family, they also began to notice similar symptoms in their younger son Naveen. Having learned from the eye camp, Sharmila suggested they take her brother directly to the hospital.
After long discussions with their family Sharmila's mother, Sumitra, decided to take Sharmila and Naveen to the hospital by borrowing money from friends and family in order to be able to afford treatment. When she arrived to the hospital she received some great news, the cost of the surgeries would be covered through an ORBIS project. Thrilled at the support provided through ORBIS and the caring nature of the staff at HEH she was confident that her children would be able to see again. The next day after surgery Sharmila and Naveen had their patches removed and after a positive post-operative exam the children took their mother into the waiting area and began testing their own vision. “I went to the examination room with my mother and tried to test myself and how much I [could] see” Sharmila recalled.
Today Sumitra proudly boasts of how well her children are doing “[Naveen] could not see before, he had trouble reading and writing and could not even recognize relatives. Now after surgery he can see clearly and carry out his activities and enjoy school.” Sharmila herself hopes to work in finance in the future and help support her family. “I am extremely proud and happy with Sharmila's performance [in school], I am confident she can take her studies ahead” says her mother who now looks to a brighter future for her family.