Without its intervention, perhaps over 25,000 Nigerians battling various eye problems would have gone blind last year. But succour came their way when the Tulsi Chanrai Foundation (TCF) Eye Hospital, Abuja, opened its doors on January 15, 2019, to the poor and vulnerable to receive free eye care, including surgeries.
It was not surprising when those treated showered prayers and praises on the hospital management at its anniversary celebrations last week, for restoring their sight and livelihood at no cost to them.
Yusuf Ndakwo, a subsistence farmer living in a remote settlement in Suleja, Niger State, had battled cataract for many years. His eye challenge sprang from dust and debris of scorched earth that occasionally blew into his eyes on windy days on his farm.
What began as a minor eye irritation soon snowballed into partial blindness. Worse still, proceeds from his farm could not foot the treatment. As time went by, he could no longer go to his farm. He became poorer and depressed as his bad eyesight has robbed him of his source of livelihood.
Ndakwo could not contain his joy when the TCF hospital management arrived his vicinity recently to fetch the vulnerable villagers with eye challenges. He was among those picked and in 72 hours, his sight was restored free of charge.
Another beneficiary of TCF’s benevolence is Abubakar Suleiman, an ex-soldier whose eyes succumbed to perennial abuse having fought several battles in unsavory circumstances. With glaucoma threatening to blind him, he helplessly resigned to fate since his monthly pension could barely feed him, let alone foot his eye-correction expenses.
Another eye patient, Gladys, said: “I don’t even know what is wrong with my eyes but I can no recognize human beings unless they speak up. Bad eyesight is a blight I don’t wish for even my enemies.”
The trio at the anniversary joined scores of vulnerable men and women to pray for the progress of TCF Eye Hospital. Ndakwo said: “Where would I have gotten money to treat my eyes? I have not been going to the farm? My family has been suffering. It has been very difficult for me to survive. I am praying for the growth and expansion of this hospital.
“My sight has been restored free of charge. They brought me here in their bus, did the surgery and fed me and others. All free of charge. The bed is also free and they’ll take us back free of charge. I am grateful.”
For Suleiman, the hospital is a live saver: “I have already concluded that I’ll be blind. I was preparing for it. No hope. Treating eye problems is quite expensive. But thank God for TCF. I’ve my sight back for free.”
Mr Sanjay Upadhyaya, Director, Marketing, TCF, said: “We are glad to announce the successful completion of one year operations, having opened for services on 15 January 2019, and formally inaugurated on July 11, 2019.
“The hospital has served more than 34,000 persons during its one year of existence and 70 per cent of them were treated free of charge. Operated in technical collaboration with globally renowned Aravind Eye Care System (AECS), and with professionals trained for more than 8 months at AECS facilities in India, the hospital has a capacity of 54 beds.”
Kannan Narayanan, a management staff of the hospital said: “TCF was established with the generous support of the Kewalram Chanrai Foundation, Worldwide Healthcare (wwcvL, Enpee Group, Fareast Mercantile Ltd- Nigeria, the HB Chanrai Group of Companies and other donors.
“We have performed over 3,000 surgeries and 2,400 of those were for poor and done free of charge. It is free from pick up to drop. We go to neighbouring villages on a weekly outreach programme to pick the vulnerable ones.”
He said Nigeria would save about $1billion annually spent on offshore medical tourism when the hospital completes its expansion programme: “Eradicating curable blindness not only offers a person the gift of sight, but more importantly, restores livelihood thereby immediately and favourably impacting economic output across the nation.”