Akash Matikar was born with exotropia, a condition in which one eye turns out or away from the direction of sight. At age 3 Akash lost his father, and he, his mother and siblings found themselves out on the street, too poor to afford food, shelter or clothing, let alone take care of his wayward eyes.
Now living at the YMCA Boys Home, Akash is the only one of the five siblings who is regularly fed, sheltered and receiving education. But none of that eases the traumas imposed by Akash’s misaligned eyes. Learning is difficult for him, and maintaining self-esteem is even harder.
It was under these conditions that Akash was selected for surgery when the
Hospital arrived in
India, intent on teaching local ophthalmologists how to straighten children’s eyes.
Surgery almost doesn’t take place
Priyal Warty, marketing specialist for FedEx Corporate Responsibility, was an ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital volunteer the week Akash, then 8, was scheduled for surgery. She had met Akash during his screening.
“The child was very playful,” she said. “I interacted with him and felt that his eye condition not only bothered him physically, but he was disturbed emotionally, too. Apparently in the boys’ home where he lives, the other boys would make fun of him. So when I learned he was selected to be operated on, I was more than happy for him.”
Priyal and Akash
Priyal was also present when Akash’s surgery was almost canceled.
“Akash’s mother had not turned up to give her consent,” she said. “So with the help of Johanna (another volunteer), we went to search for her. We had a vague address, but we really didn’t know where we were going. After hours of searching, we managed to reach the area where his mother was working.”
A begger who knew most of the neighborhood residents led the two to Akash’s sister, who took them to her mother, who was hard at work cleaning offices.
“The mother said she was aware of the consent process but could not leave her job. She felt helpless,” Priyal said. “After we convinced her of the importance of the procedure, she had her daughter fill in for her so she could go back with us and sign the consent form.”
Surgery back on
Akash’s surgery was performed by Dr. Werner Cadera of
Hospital. Dr. Cadera was pleased to report that Akash would be able to read without difficulty and no longer have to suffer the taunts of other children.
“Akash’s surgery not only helped his vision but allowed us to demonstrate techniques that would be useful to the local doctors here in Mumbai,” Dr. Cadera said.
Akash and his mother
“By straightening Akash’s eyes, we were able to improve not only his vision but also his day-to-day relationships with others. “
“I am so happy about the surgery,” Akash’s mother said, tears filling her eyes. “I want good things to happen to Akash. I want him to study, grow up and make me proud. Some day I wish to take all my children and live in one room, since now I do not have a home. I hope Akash will help us get there.”
You can help
Akash’s eye surgery was performed free of charge thanks to the support of caring individuals like yourself. Donations make it possible for ORBIS to help children and adults all over the world. Please give generously so that others may see.