DHAKA: When poor eyesight forced Motiur Rahman to abandon his pulled rickshaw, there seemed to be no hope that he would find another livelihood — until last month, when Saudi doctors treated his cataract and gave him a new lease on life.
Rahman, 62, was one of hundreds of people who underwent eye surgery when ophthalmologists from the Kingdom arrived in the Chapainawabganj area of northwestern Bangladesh in late September.
“I was close to blind before the operation. But with the grace of almighty Allah, now I am completely ok with my (eyesight),” he said. “I feel like (I’m) reborn. I can see things like in my early days.”
The Saudi Noor Volunteer Program between Sept. 23 and Oct. 1 was organized by the Al-Basar International Foundation, a Saudi NGO working in the field of blindness prevention, with support from the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center or KSrelief.
“A total of 15 doctors came from Saudi Arabia,” Dr. Ahmed Taher Hamid Ali, Al-Basar’s country director for Bangladesh, told Arab News. “They were very willing to provide quality eye care to underprivileged persons.”
The doctors’ work was facilitated by Al-Basar’s local partner, Al-Noor Eye Hospital in Dhaka, which organized a medical camp at its subbranch in Chapainawabganj, some 300 kilometers from the capital.
According to the hospital’s data, the Saudi doctors had examined and treated 4,610 patients and conducted 519 cataract surgeries over one week.
“They choose to help in Bangladesh on the basis of needs,” Ali said.
Cataracts are the main cause of vision loss in the South Asian nation where 1.5 percent of adults are blind and 21.6 percent have low vision.
The treatment involved the latest medical technology and was free for all who had reached out for help.
“It was completely free, and I didn’t spend a single penny for the surgery. I even received free medicines and ointments for post-surgery treatment,” said Fazar Ali, a 72-year-old who was forced to retire from his fresh produce business when he began losing his vision a few years ago.
“I have been suffering from poor eyesight for the last couple of years. I couldn’t even recognize the people’s faces,” he said. “After the surgery, now I can see better.”
Mohammad Naimul Huq, a 68-year-old farmer and another beneficiary of the Saudi program, was back working just days after lens-replacement surgery.
“I received very good care at the clinic. It was a successful operation in my right eye,” he told Arab News. “After the operation, now I can work again perfectly like before.”