"For years I lived in the dark, part dead, part asleep...."
August 29, 2014 1:47 PM   Subscribe

"... now, my sight and my world and my life have all returned." Vision: Healing the Blind in Ethiopia [vimeo, 10m]

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, accounting for over half of all cases. The condition is reversible by a simple surgery, but in rural areas and developing countries, access to such care is limited. In Ethiopia, approximately 1.3 million of the country's 86M citizens are blind, and blindness and vision impairment affects ~8-12% of Ethiopians over 40. Poverty, distance to hospitals, lack of escorts, and old age prevent many Ethiopians from obtaining treatment.

The Himalayan Cataract Project is one of several organizations working to bring cataract surgery to unserved populations in the Africa and the Himalayas, where they both provide treatment and train local doctors so that the care is self-sustaining. Recently, HCP organized a team of Ethiopian, American, and Nepali doctors and cured over a thousand Ethiopians of blindness in the space of a week. Vision: Healing the Blind is a short movie, told in the patient's own words, documenting the transformative power of the surgeries. The patients' ululations speak for themselves.

Eric Perlman, who made the movie, has also posted other videos documenting HCP work, including this movie of follow-up interviews with the patients a year and a half later [NB: much is repeated here; follow-ups start around 9:50].
posted by Westringia F. (8 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
That was incredibly moving, Westringia F. I got tears in my eyes watching the link where the patients could see for the first time. The most unexpected thing was how much younger the people seemed once they could see - they went from being frail old people tentatively making their way around their house and yard to having lost forty years based on the spring in their step. Truly inspiring.
posted by Atrahasis at 6:26 PM on August 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Cataract operations go back to the medieval; they're described in 14th century journals. They're astonishingly effective, simple, low-risk and life-changing, now more than ever. And what could be more astonishing than giving back people their sight?

I wish I knew why a post like this one gets no traction. Elephants playing with flags, vacuous lists of one-liners about pop music, [gender|fandom|discrimination] - lots of people get stuck in. But actual miracles? No interest.

It's not MeFi, it's really how people are. I wish I knew how to change that.
posted by Devonian at 8:14 PM on August 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm sitting in a nonprofit conference reading mefi instead of listening to inspirational stories.... I saved this link for later but 10minutes on Vimeo for a fundraising feel good vide, blegh. Is it going to teach me about cataract surgery, Ethiopian society or something more than a 1minute video on upworthy video feel good would do faster?

I will watch it, but I'm a prime audience for this kinda of video and it's just too long.
posted by viggorlijah at 8:28 PM on August 29, 2014

Seeing people be happy never gets old. And when people can feel useful again--that doesn't get old either.

...I can eat every day...

This. One sense fails and a marginal life can teeter. That some people can be brought back from that edge, and folded into their family lives and society--you guessed it--that doesn't get old, either.

All the people blessing those doctors? Seconded.
posted by datawrangler at 8:34 PM on August 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you feel it is too long (the content is spectacular, the editing...and especially choices for voiceover...could be improved), skip to 4:00 minutes in. It's pretty awesome. My son is Ethiopian and, man, I just love the Ethiopian people so much. This is wonderful work.
posted by jeanmari at 8:44 PM on August 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's good to see people doing something kind amid this summer of global horror.
posted by univac at 10:25 AM on August 30, 2014

I have a close friend who developed a detached retina, and the surgery for this invariably produces a cataract. Watching her struggle hasn't been fun. I can't imagine having to deal with this for longer than it takes to get it taken care of.

These doctors are HEROS in my book!

Yes, the video needed editing. Sadly, we live in a sound-bite, hurry-up world. (and I really have to get to bed)
posted by BlueHorse at 8:43 PM on August 30, 2014

Beautiful. Really beautiful. And amazing that five doctors performed over a thousand surgeries in *one* week. It made me sad though that the overall poverty/lack of infrastructure made a person who was blind unable to function at all in their society.
posted by biggreenplant at 7:13 AM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

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