A Success Story – Sightsavers International (Pakistan Chapter)
“I work making bricks at Brick Kiln. It is very difficult work – all professions are difficult, but clay work is really tough. We start early in the morning, then come home for a while, then go back to work again in the afternoon. My two sons, daughter-in-law and grandchildren live with me – I am the main breadwinner.”
The Brick Kiln is owned by a landlord who hires people on daily wages to make bricks. The workers, like Sardar, live nearby with their families and are known as the Brick Kiln community. Many workers owe money to the land owner, and work for low wages to pay back their debts. As a result, the community doesn’t have access to any health services.
Three years ago, Sardar’s eyesight began to worsen, but he had to continue working as his family was reliant on his income. Getting medical help for his eyes was not a possibility.
“In the past three years, I never got my eyesight checked because I was not able to go to the hospital. You can get the treatment when you have resources, but I could not even get my children an education. We do not have a penny for medicines and treatments. I am the only person who is managing the household.”
“I cannot see objects clearly,” he told us. “If I close my one eye and see from just one eye, then I can see somewhat better, but overall, it is a blur. I can recognise objects from distance but from near, I cannot see properly.
“I am playing the roles of both mother and father for my paralysed son and grandchildren. It is very scary if I am going to lose my eyesight: my family cannot even survive if I am away for a while.”
Sardar’s treatment began at an eye camp organised by Sightsavers at the Brick Kiln community in Shahpur. From there he was referred to LRBT Hospital for cataract surgery as part of Sightsavers’ Right to Health programme, something that would not have been possible without the programme’s funding and support.
However, Sardar, who is over 60 years old, was initially nervous about going to the hospital and the procedure. “When I went to the hospital, I thought I was not going to be well. I did not know what would happen to me, but I thought I would get better because the other patients were also healing. They told me about how they got treatment and it made me motivated.
“When I went to the hospital, I was very sad and my grandchild was upset. I raised my grandchild since he was very young. He was worried about my surgery and what could happen to his grandfather. But now he is very happy to see me better. “Thank god I am fine now, and I can see everything. I am so happy and grateful.”
The successful operation has also led to financial security for Sardar and his family. He’s able to work and provide for his children and grandchildren.
“Before I had treatment, when it was too sunny, I could not see things clearly and I would fall to the ground. And now I can see everything. Things have become so much easier for me.
“I’m very happy. I didn’t have anything, but now I can make good money and improve my family’s livelihood.”
Sardar’s life-changing cataract operation was funded through Sightsavers’ Right to Health project, funded by the UK government. The project ensures health services are accessible for people with disabilities and other marginalised groups.