Geoff Cohn for Vision Beyond Australia

More Vision Beyond Aus Stories

Hen Huot

Kek SreyNa

Sie Socheata

Mao Yoeurn

Siek Seang

Chi Lina

Chi Lina was born blind with cataracts in both eyes and had no hope of ever seeing until Vision Beyond Aus surgeons in Battambang, Cambodia, operated for no charge.

Chi’s father abandoned her mother when she was 6 months’ pregnant, leaving her to scratch a living by making souvenirs and selling them to merchants in her village.

As Chi grew, she could not walk safely or play with her friends. But, through the work of Vision Beyond Aus, Chi was brought to the eye centre in Battambang where surgeons operated on both eyes under general anaesthetic – at no cost to her mother.

Chi can now see, begin to learn to read and is on her way out of a life of poverty into one of opportunity.

Chin Yean

Meet Chin Yean, a shy six-year-old girl from Kandal province. She lives with her parents and her 3-year-old sister. Her father is a teacher in public school and her mother is a bamboo seller. At school, she loves to study Khmer subjects and would like to be a nurse so she can take care of her family. At home, she likes to eat grilled pork with rice, drink pure water, and play dolls with her friend.

Since she was born, ChingYean has had a dropped left eyelid. It is hard to open her left eye and she does not see well. An aunt suggested that ChinYean’s mother should take her to Children’s Surgical Centre to see if surgery can correct her eyelid. Surgeons at CSC diagnosed ChingYean with ptosis. Ptosis is when the upper eyelid droops down over the eye more than it should. In some cases, it can cause major vision problems. The eyelid muscles stay relaxed, and the lid hangs down over the eye.

Her mother said:
I feel very unhappy that my daughter’s eyelid is droopy, not good looking like other kids. After this operation, I hope her eyelid can open to see everything and look good like normal kids.

On 23 August, eye surgeons at Children’s Surgical Centre performed eye lid muscle surgery on the levator muscle of her eyelid. She and her parents spent the night at CSC, then made the journey home. She will use medicated eye drops to aid in healing for the next week; her eyelids may have some bruising and swelling but should fully heal in about 12 weeks. ChingYean looks forward to returning to school with her friends and seeing well for the first time.

Her mother shared:
I am happy my daughter’s eye is better. She was ashamed to play with her friends because her eye looked bad. Now she can go to school, be with her friends, and feel good about herself. Thank you to everyone who helped her be a happy child.

Mey Ching

Meet Mey Ching, usually a happy child from Phnom Penh City. She is an only child and not yet in school. She lives with her parents – her father is a truck driver, and her mother works in a box factory on the outskirts of the city. At home, she enjoys eating pork fried rice, drinking milk, playing with homemade dolls, and watching cartoons on TV.

Last month, Mey Ching’s mother noticed irritation and swelling on her left eyelid – she had developed a chalazion. A chalazion is an inflamed cyst in a patient’s tear gland, sometimes seen in children who do not have facilities for good eye hygiene. It is difficult for Mey Ching to see clearly; she is in pain and very sad. Her parents heard about Children’s Surgical Centre, where Cambodians can get free or low-cost surgical care from Khmer surgeons.

Mey Ching’s mother said:
I hope after surgery Mey Ching’s eye lid stops swelling and will look good again.

On July 7, surgeons removed the cyst through a chalazion excision procedure. She will rest at home and wear an eye patch for several days to keep dust and water out of her eye. Once the recovery period is over, the inflammation should subside, and her eyelid will return to normal. Although it may take several weeks before her eye heals completely, Mey Ching will no longer have a swollen lid or be shy among her friends.

Mey Ching’s mother shared:
I am happy the staff took good care of my daughter’s eye. She was afraid to go outside because her eye hurt so much. She can be happy around her friends now and not in pain. Thank you to the people who help Cambodian children to have good lives.

Maya’s Story of Hope

Maya Tamang is a sixty year old widow staying alone on her own in Jyamdi. She could not see with her both eyes well.

It is strange how she managed to stay alive in a very sparsely populated Tamang settlement. Few times in a year her younger sister would come to help her, but as she has her own family responsibilities she too would have to go back to her own home.
The villagers would take care of her. They would alternately bring food to her, but most often, there was this kid who liked to help her a lot. So he used to come to her house and cook food for her.

It had already been 5 years and she managed to survive in the same method. Few times, she used to sleep with a hungry stomach and many a time she used to improvise with stale leftovers of the food brought by the neighbors, especially during the farming seasons, when everybody in the villagers would go in the field and is busy in the harvest.
After five years, the kid becomes young and he questions the adults—why does the woman have to live like this? Is not there any solution for her?

The blithesome countrymen didn’t give much attention to his questions only to get him more proactive. He wanted the woman to get her to the hospital. Sadly, he had no money and he did not know where the hospital was. The boy was 14 years old.

The boy told his family to help her. Since he frequently brawled about this, the father also became attentive toward her. He started to look the woman more kinder way. They were planning to take her to the hospital the other week. One day the woman sprained her leg while she was roaming door to door begging. Her mobility was then highly restricted. She used to stay indoors all day weeping.

We were informed about the woman while we were in that area for surveying if a camp was feasible. We went to her home and found that she had had cataracts in the both eyes. While getting back, we brought the woman with the father of the very kid as a caretaker. We could not meet the kid as he had gone to school.

Her both eyes were operated one day after other. Vision Beyond AUS bore all the costs for the cataract surgeries. Her vision was completely restored. She was very happy and she said she could not pay back the debt all her life time. The old man even took her to another hospital for the sprained leg.

Now, she does not have to go begging to get her ends meet. She doesn’t even goes to her neighbors for help.

Khim Pok

Khim, 73, developed an age-related cataract in each eye. She experienced blurry vision, tearing, and light sensitivity. Khim is a mother of six; she has three daughters and three sons. She has 12 grandchildren. She used to be a rice farmer but has been unable to work for the past year due to her declining vision. She likes to listen to monks pray on the radio and look after her grandchildren in her free time.

Khim and her niece traveled for three hours to come to CSC from the Kandal Province in Cambodia. Khim’s family was concerned that her diminished vision was affecting her quality of life and that she will slowly go blind. She has been unable to support her family and be independent due to her poor vision.

Click here for Khim’s full story.

Ples Ravuth

Ples Ravuth, 2, has a congential cataract in his right eye. He has had blurred vision and a clouded lens in his eye since birth. He lives with his grandmother who takes
care of him, his father who is a rice farmer, and his mother who works at a garment factory. His mother and grandmother traveled for two hours to come to CSC from the
Prey Veng Province in Cambodia. They were unable to afford surgery for Ravuth to remove the cataract and improve his vision…

Click here for Ravuth’s full story.


7 year old G Tunna, a tribal boy from the blind school was brought with complaints of defective vision since early childhood.

He hails from a family of 3 other siblings. His parents are labourers and he was put into a Blind School four years ago.

On examination here he was found to have congenital cataracts in both eyes with nystagmus. After assessing him pre operatively he was posted for surgery under general anaesthesia. Both cataracts were operated upon on the same day and IOL’s implanted with no cost to his parents.

Post operatively it was astonishing to see his surprise on seeing his parents for the first time. The joy of this lad is beyond words to describe. The post op picture says it all.

The parents and School are grateful to our hospital and the donors for what they say are the miracle of sight for this child.

Adi Laxmi

Adi Laxmi is a woman who lives in Southern India, she was desperately poor and totally blind from macular dystrophy of the cornea in both eyes. A face of confusion and fear has now, after two corneal transplants carried out by Dr Sunil Thangaragh and funded by Vision Beyond AUS (VBA), turned to joy.

She has been able to go out and find work to support her disabled husband and her daughter has been able to return to school. Her self esteem has reappeared and life is worth living again. As a family, their lives are transformed.

She asked the surgeon who restored the sight in both her eyes, “Does God live in this place you call Australia?”

Jeypal Relli

14 month old Jeypal Relli was brought to our hospital as his parents noticed a white opacity in his left eye for the past 3 weeks. They had consulted other Ophthalmologists, but were not satisfied with their advice. On hearing about our Hospital from fellow villagers they approached us for consultation.

We explained to the parents that the child had congenital cataracts in both eyes although in varying stages. We further advised that the baby had to undergo a complicated surgery and then rehabilitation for the same. They agreed to get the left eye operated upon and only after that the right eye.

The child underwent surgery on 28th Feb 2014 and the post op picture was taken the very next day (1st March 2014). One can see the absolute joy on both the Mother’s and child’s face.

46,095 lives changed

With the aid and assistance from Vision Beyond Aus, trained eye specialists visited all schools in the Namobuddha Municipality in Nepal throughout August and September for a Children’s Eye Camp. The specialists travelled over some rough territory throughout the municipality visiting children between the ages of 6 and 18 and providing general eye check-ups. 135 pairs of glasses were handed out to children throughout the camps. Due to COVID-19, school students have been on online learning, making it very difficult for those children with eye disease to continue with their studies. Vision Beyond Aus is continuing to provide financial support to enable appropriate surgery to be provided to those in need in Nepal.

View IN-SIGHT here

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