My apologies to all for the delay in submitting the following four Blog days- I seem to have picked up some sort of mild dysentery recently that hammered me a bit- getting better now! More later! Apologies that the following blogs are a bit shorter- I just don't have the energy for more right now!
After only about four hours sleep we started the day with a press conference set up by the Bank, where we also met the Sight Savers International representative, who oversees all the sight restoration programme for the Seeing Is Believing programme in the country, followed by a live radio interview.
I was amazed to learn that cataract operations here can take as little as five minutes, with the surgeon cutting a small, 2 CM slit in the eye, then removing the damaged lens, breaking it up and pulling it out the tiny slit, then replacing a new, clear lens folded into the same small incision, that then opens out as a perfect replacement; that's it- no stitches- job done!
(I hope I got the description right!)
Richard and I then had pour own eyes opened in a big way, being taken to visit the huge Islamia Eye Hospital based in the city, where Seeing Is Believing first started several years ago. They perform more cataract operations here than almost any other hospital in the world- staggering- with total flow of patients for all treatments being around 700-800 DAILY- even better than the NHS hey?!…
Their patient flow yesterday was 989; nearly ONE THOUSAND IN A DAY!
We were met by a wonderful delegation of dedicated, warm-hearted professionals led by Zahida Ispahani, a precious philanthropic woman who, through her husband's family I understand, have been overseeing and financially supporting this life-changing work for several generations- doesn't it blow your mind to see how much good some people put their assets to- not just that, but throwing their lives in as well- total commitment, nothing less, and so humbling and inspiring.
The 40/50 doctors on the staff see some fifty patient treatments daily.
Richard and I had the opportunity to don full theatre gowns, masks, hats and shoe coverings and entered one of the large operating theatres, with seven microscopes being constantly moved from one patient to the next as they were prepped and readied for the cataract operations. Richard watched the entire process on a patient on a TV monitor, and it literally took a few minutes from start to end- a new patient every tenminutes- amazing!
We then toured the children's ward, where children are kept in with their mothers for several days, doing both eyes during that time, and monitoring their recovery and teaching the mothers future care. 80% of all children's cataract operations are totally free.
I was asked to do a presentation to the doctors and staff who could spare the time in their auditorium, but felt I had little to offer them, compared with both their dedication and fruitful, selfless lives.
After touring all their wards and services we left feeling somehow enriched, having rubbed shoulders for just a few hours with people who, day by day, year by year, continue to dedicate their lives and professional skills for the betterment of others, not themselves- rare, certainly disturbing to a complacent Western mind, yet beautiful, compelling, drawing out virtues and desires to better serve all mankind in the world from all who pass through their doors… thank you all, for the impact you are making in the world- even our little worlds as we visited you all today!
Ass soon as we got back to our hotel I had a long interview with the BBC World Service, with the questions coming by phone from London, and a local BBC man recording my answers in my hotel room digitally, then sending back the high-quality recording afterwards.
I then felt quite rough; aching all over, skin painful to the touch, headache, and put it down to lack of sleep and a hectic schedule, and grabbed a sandwich and ten minutes resting on my bed.
Two more presentations today, a Town Hall gathering of all the Bank's staff just now, then a corporate client dinner this evening, then off to Myanmar
(Burma) early tomorrow morning… feeling the strain a bit.
My presentation to the Staff was proceeded by some chilling facts; a person goes blind in the world every 5 seconds, a child every minute, and, in the developing world, 60% of the blind children die in childhood.
The evening charity dinner, impeccibly hosted by Osman Morad, CEO for the SCB in Bangladesh was attended by a large gathering of the Bank's clientsand friends- some of the nicest people you could wish to meet anywhere. The evening was a great success it appears, with a great meal being served after Osman and Sight Savers had once again aroused the hearts of those present, with me coming along for the easy apart at the end. The only down-side was that I was now feeling very unwell, shivering uncontrollably in the cool air conditioning, leaving me hot, cold, chattering teeth like a monkey at times, and needing to borrow a man's jacket to wear to keep warm- crazy!
I asked Richard if I could come out to the airport two hours after him tomorrow, leaving him to complete the flight clearances whilst I slept in a bit. Went to bed feeling quite sick- looking forward to sleeping in a bit!