A father’s livelihood and hope restored

Man stands with his two daughters beside him, smiling.
With his sight restored, Milan has been able to return to work at the tea estate. Through the generosity of donors like you, he has regained his independence and is now able to support his four children.
Written by Colin Zak, published on September 8, 2023 Sign up for eNews

The ancient art of ‘tea plucking”’ requires the picker to identify and pluck only the freshest, newest shoots on the tea plant. It requires dexterity, speed and, most importantly, excellent eyesight. 

So, imagine trying to pick tea efficiently when your eyes are clouded over with cataracts. 

This was the situation for 36-year-old Milan, who lives at the Nahorjan Tea Estate in Assam, India.  

He had worked as a tea picker for years before his vision started to fade. When his wife passed away suddenly, he was left alone to support their four young children. Shortly after, his eyesight reduced so much that he was able to detect little more than hand movement in front of his eyes. 

Robbed of his ability to work, Milan and his children moved in with his father, leaving the burden of supporting the family on the aging grandfather.  

“Assam tea is the best tea in the world, but while plucking the tea, the workers have more exposure to sunlight,” says Operation Eyesight Project Manager Tapobrat Bhuyan. “Sadly, long hours of exposure to solar radiation can contribute to the early development of cataracts.”

Hope arrived for Milan in February when he attended a screening camp at the tea estate, which we had organized with our local partner Chandraprabha Eye Hospital.

Man sits on a hospital bed, with with elderly father sitting beside him, holding his son's hand.
Vision loss made it impossible for Milan (left) to continue working as a tea picker. Before his sight-restoring surgery, Milan’s father (right) had to lead him by the hand to the clinic because Milan could not see well enough to walk on his own.

Milan was among the dozens of tea plantation workers who received eye health screening. He was diagnosed with cataracts and was scheduled for surgery, free of charge.

Days later, the hospital sent a bus to collect Milan and other patients to transport them for their surgeries in the nearby city of Jorhat. Milan underwent phacoemulsification surgery on both eyes, a technique that is considered the gold standard in cataract removal because it reduces recovery time.

About a month later, Milan was back at work picking tea. He’s grateful that he can once again support his family. Thanks to the compassion of our partners and donors like you, he and his children have hope for a brighter future.

Click here to make a difference in the life of a family like Milan’s today.

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