More than 300 people in Yangon Region’s Okkan township received free eye operations last week thanks to a charitable jewellery business owner.
The operations were organised by the Gold Fish Diamond and Jewellery Center in Pabedan township and conducted from March 25 to 27, at a cost of about K50,000 for each operation. Further operations will be carried out on April 8, organisers say.
More than 2000 people received treatment, including 310 who underwent surgery.
The owner of the jewellery centre, U Thein Myint, told The Myanmar Times he hoped the operations could restore eyesight to those unable to afford treatment.
“I saw and met many people suffering from various eye diseases. Some people need an eye operation but they can’t afford the medical costs,” he said.
“I was moved to help when I saw people who were helpless because they don’t have money. I have decided to help people to get their eyesight back.”
U Thein Myint launched the program in 2009 when he provided treatment to about 100 people. The following year another 200 were treated. He said it takes about one month to prepare for the operations, including registering patients and purchasing medicine.
Volunteer Daw Than Than Aye said two doctors and four nurses conducted operations from 7am to 12pm over the three days.
“We appreciate their help so much that even though we can’t afford to give money we decided to contribute our labour. The doctors seem happy to volunteer in their free time,” she said, adding that cataracts were the most common ailment.
Recipients of operations, who had come from townships in Ayeyarwady, Bago and Yangon regions, were understandably grateful to their benefactor.
Daw Mya Gyi, 78, who lives in Okkan township’s Nga Ein Tan village, said cataracts caused her to start losing her eyesight when she was in her 50s. She went totally blind about five years ago and her family was unable to afford the treatment to restore her sight.
“I never thought I would be able to use my eyes again. My desire after regaining my eyesight is to visit pagodas and keep a fast at a monastery. Now I can do it by myself – I don’t know how to express my thanks to the donors,” she said.
“I felt so happy and thankful to the donors’ family … I pray for their prosperity so they can help more people in future,” she said.
Another patient, U Kyin Maung, 76, from Yae Dwin Gyi village, said a cataract in his left eye had been hampering his ability to look after his farm.
“I heard about the free operations and met the doctor [in 2010] but was told my cataract was not ready for an operation and I needed to wait. They asked me to register and I came this year for an operation,” he said.
“My friends and I heard about [the donors’] deeds last year and I feel so blessed [to receive treatment]. Their deeds are considerable.”
U Thein Myint said he planned to hold the operations annually.
“I will make it a long-term project – the number of requests I receive is increasing each year.”