After 8 years residents of the little hamlet of Keta got access to eye care. For these 700 Ghanains a one-day eye camp on 15 April 2011 was life transforming.
“The people of this region are known to be afflicted by a variety of eye ailments,” says Ruchi Ghanashyam, the High Commisioner of India, Ghana, through a letter. “Keeping this in mind an eye specialist from India had been deputed here till 1998 at the request of the Government of Ghana. But since then the people of this hospital (Keta Municipal Hospital, Ghana) and the surrounding areas have been deprived of their health services.”
The response to the eye screening camp was over-whelming to say the least. People came not just from Keta and its surrounding areas, but also from the neighbouring country of Togo. Some even spent the night at the camp to ensure that they got a turn.
Glaucoma, a blinding disease is common there and many were going blind or were already blind in one eye, and had no access to treatment. “There is no eye surgeon in the whole of the Volta district. Some of them were being seen by a doctor for the first time,” shares Prashaant Chaudhry, an Art of Living teacher and eye doctor. “About 30 percent required further checkup and surgery and were referred to facilities in the city of Accra,” he continues.
Despite a long wait, the smiles on everyone’s faces gave testimony to the benefits they received – a lady expressing amazement at the experience of having her eyes checked for the first time; the wonder of holding a package of medicines; a group exploding into giggles as someone tried on a newly-gifted pair of glasses. “Your contribution through the eye camp was, (therefore), invaluable,” concludes Ms. Ghanashyam.
From meditation programs to eye care
The idea of the eye camp was born when Prashaant Chaudhry and his wife, Vidya Nair, visited Accra to conduct stress-elimination programs. They travelled around Ghana’s largest city teaching yoga and meditation to children and adults through the Part I, Art Excel, and Art of Living Yoga programs. Heart warming as it was to help people in the urban areas, the couple wanted to reach out to the rural areas as well.
Before long the idea of the eye screening camp came about, fuelled by the support of the Indian High Commission in Ghana, the Keta Municipal assembly and the Indian community.
Future service projects in Ghana
In the two months that Vidya and Prashaant have spent in Ghana, they provided relief to many people. Additionally, they have also paved the way to organize stress-elimination programs, called Prison SMART programs in Ghana prisons. Courses to empower the youth, YES+ program, are slotted to start this September in the Ghana University.
Satisfied with the programs conducted and the future plans, Vidya says: “We take so many facilities we have access to for granted and keep complaining. Let's be grateful for all we have!”