Tzu Chi Foundation conducted its first eye mission in Ormoc City on August 2 and 3, providing needed surgeries for 179 cataracts and pterygium cases.
Tzu Chi volunteers were occupied with setting up tents, unloading medical apparatus and supplies in Ormoc District Hospital on October 2 for what will be the lone free eye mission to have happened in this town in recent years.
Excitement is felt by the locals, including Tzu Chi volunteer Juanito Suco. He said the event is a blessing to his people.
“I am sure everyone is happy. These patients could barely see for years but after the operation they will be able to get back their vision. This is one of the most important aid Tzu Chi has given to Ormoc because our sight is the most important of all the senses,” said Suco.
But to carry out such a big mission needs an even bigger manpower. However, there are only a handful of local Tzu Chi volunteers in the area so they invited residents of Tzu Chi’s housing village in Barangay Liloan to support the event. They managed to recruit 26 villagers to volunteer.
Offering her time and strength is Erlinda Matugas’ way of helping since she does not have the money to extend or give to the needy. She also had the opportunity to visit some of the patients who successfully underwent the surgery. The experience opened her heart and led her to commit to this path.
“I will be a Tzu Chi volunteer up to the last breath of my life,” she declared.
Another challenge came up during the event. Three of the machines needed for the operation malfunctioned. Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) doctors and nurses from Manila were forced to conduct the surgeries manually, even if takes them until 11:00 p.m. on the first day.
Representatives and engineers from Carl Zeiss, an international optical and optoelectronic company that has been a partner of Tzu Chi’s eye missions for years, provided technical support.
“It is an honor to be part of this activity and not every organization is capable of doing this because it is hard but Tzu Chi has been doing this for a while and they have been successful. We are really happy to be a part of Tzu Chi to help other people. To be able to help is very rewarding. I want to share that feeling of happiness to everyone back in our company,” said John Anthony Castro, Application Specialist for Carl Zeiss Southeast Asia.
Despite the delay, TIMA doctors managed to operate on 179 eye patients throughout the mission’s run between August 2 and 3. Among these patients are 41 pterygium cases, 133 cataracts cases, and 5 special eye cases.
Orbit specialist Dr. Jacqueline Mupas-Uy conducted the ptyregium removal surgeries. She shared how fulfilling it was to offer her service and skills to the needy for free.
“Usually the condition of the patients’ eyes here are really severe cases. Most probably this is because of the shortage of eye specialists here in Ormoc. Some supposedly non-serious ptyregium would become worst and would cover the whole eye. We rarely encounter this type of cases in our practice in Manila” shared Uy.
The first large-scale eye mission in Ormoc may have been riddled with challenges, but with sincere love and compassion, Tzu Chi volunteers, doctors, and nurses managed to overcome all these and change the lives of many patients.