In medical terms, Tila Maya Rai is blind. Suffering from cataracts in both of her eyes, her vision is extremely blurred. It was only a matter of time that her cataracts would mature, making her completely blind.
Thankfully, by the time of writing this story, her cataracts have been removed by the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation, and she can see clearly.
For Tila Maya Rai, blindness owing to cataracts created immense difficulty in her life. Living in a remote mountain village in Nepal, many household chores needed attending to daily – the fields, the vegetable garden, poultry, cooking, and cleaning. Living alone with her husband who had a job of his own, and with all their children living far away – some married, some pursuing their education in the city – much of the household work was burdened upon Tila’s shoulders.
When Tila meets the screening team from Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation she shares her pain. “I cannot do the outdoor work anymore. My husband looks after the fields and the poultry. I do the cooking, and the cleaning”. When asked how she manages to do the tasks, Tila says that she works blindly. She has to be extremely cautious and has to make assumptions based on her blurred vision. Thankfully she hasn’t met with an accident so far.
After assigning her a date for her surgery, the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation screening team depart. Tila Maya has a daughter in Salleri who will bring her to the temporary eye camp in a few days.
On the assigned date, Tila Maya and her daughter arrive at the microsurgical camp in Solukhumbu. There, she is operated upon by Dr Sanduk Ruit – a world-renowned eye surgeon who has cured over 130,000 people from cataract blindness. It is with him Mr Tej Kohli has joined hands to achieve their combined vision to eradicate cataract blindness from the developing world. Together, they plan to cure 300,000 cases like Tila Maya’s by 2026. Their efforts in the coming years will span several countries.
The next day after her surgery, Tila Maya, along with other patients, have their bandages removed. For Tila Maya, the moment of opening her eyes was profound – she is excited to be able to see again. She thanks the doctor, looks into the crowd for her daughter and – along with other patients who have recently had their eyesight restored – dances her heart away.
The next day, the day that she is supposed to be discharged – her husband arrives at the eye camp too. Together, clutching on to the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation eye care package (cotton, eye drops and bandages), she and her husband head back home – to collectively work in their fields, and look after their poultry.