Thursday, Apr 15

Cataract mission save vision of deaf-mute sisters, mother

August 05, 2018 | Jushua Marga

Three members of the Basan family benefitted from the free cataract surgeries Tzu Chi Foundation conducted from August 4 to 5, 2018. Tzu Chi volunteers visited them in their home after the operation.【Photo by Jushua Marga】

Story Highlights

  • Tzu Chi Foundation’s Eye Mission from August 4 to 5 in Ormoc City saved the vision of twin sisters who were born deaf and mute, as well as their mother who has cataract too.


Cataract runs in the family of Estrella Basan.

Her mother, as well as her sister and three of her children and another three of the sister’s grandchildren are all afflicted with cataract. Then six years ago, Estrella noticed her vision was growing hazy, and she realized that she has cataract too.

But aside from her loved ones having this eye condition, Estrella was especially worried about her daughters Ana Angelica and Maria Chona, 49. The twins were born deaf and mute.

“It is already hard that they can’t speak or hear, but now they might also lose their vision. I am afraid that life will become even more difficult for them,” said Estrella.

Because of their deaf-mute status, the sisters didn’t have much opportunities in life. Angelica managed to finish her primary education. However, Chona barely stepped inside a classroom. The love and support from their parents and their five siblings was all that equipped the sisters for their survival in life. Without a formal education, they developed their own sign language.

“This is not the sign language that is taught in schools. Living with them, I have learned it eventually. It made it easier for me to connect with them,” the sisters’ niece Venus explained.

Venus accompanied her aunts to the Eye Mission at Ormoc District Hospital and served as their translator. The sisters were among the 179 patients who received free surgeries.

“I am happy. Before my eyesight was blurry, now I can see things clearly,” Chona said while Venus interpreted.

Estrella had also undergone cataract removal surgery during the first day of the mission. “I was afraid that we would all go blind that is why I am happy that Tzu Chi had come. I am thankful to them for treating our eye problems,” she shared.

The family stretches Estrella’s pension to cover all their expenses for years. This explains why they cannot afford to have their eye surgeries. But with the unconditional and selfless service that volunteer ophthalmologists of Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) provides. The Basan family can lead a normal life now.

  • Maria Chona Basan, 49, has been afflicted with cataracts for five years now. Her vision has become clouded that someone has to assist her in walking. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】

  • The Basan family developed their own sign language so they can understand each other. Chona and Angelica’s niece, Venus, served as interpreter between the patients and the Tzu Chi volunteers during the medical mission. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】

  • Deaf/mute sisters Angelica and Chona Basan underwent free cataract surgeries during Tzu Chi Foundation’s first Eye Surgical Mission in Ormoc, which ran from August 4 to 5. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】

  • Volunteer ophthalmologists from Manila, led by Dr. Antonio Say, gave their time and expertise in the mission. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】

  • Ana Angelica Basan, 49, shows her thumbs up to a Tzu Chi volunteer, expressing her gratitude for the free surgery. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】