In 2010, Nepal achieved a remarkable feat by reversing the trend of untreated blindness, which was on the rise in many developing countries at the time. This accomplishment was even more remarkable given that it was achieved in the face of expectations to the contrary. The credit for this achievement largely goes to Dr. Sanduk Ruit and his team at the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, with support from external partners like the Fred Hollows Foundation and the Himalayan Cataract Project.
Dr. Ruit has been leading a revolution in eye health in Nepal for over three decades, and his efforts have continued to make a significant impact. In fact, in 2021, he co-founded the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation with philanthropist Tej Kohli to expand his efforts to cure blindness in impoverished communities worldwide.
Despite the progress made in the past thirty years, many Nepalese still suffer from extreme poverty and unnecessary blindness. One such individual is Sun Maya Praja, a member of the marginalized Chepang community. When a team visited Sun Maya’s home, they found her crawling on the floor to get to the toilet, and her 12-year-old niece Pratima had to miss school to care for her.
Sun Maya’s blindness had made it impossible for her to fulfill her household responsibilities. However, thanks to the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation’s microsurgical camp at the Hetauda Community Eye Hospital, Sun Maya received surgery from Dr. Ruit himself. The following day, Sun Maya’s patches were removed, and she was ecstatic to regain her sight. A week later, a team from the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation returned to Sun Maya’s village for a follow-up and found that her life had been transformed.
Thanks to her successful surgery, Sun Maya was walking independently, taking care of poultry, performing household chores, and even visiting her brother’s family nearby for a cup of tea. Her niece Pratima had not missed a single day of school since Sun Maya’s surgery, making it clear that the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation’s efforts are making a significant difference in impoverished communities around the world.
The story of Sun Maya Praja is a powerful reminder of the impact that individual efforts and collective action can have on transforming the lives of those in need. The accomplishments of Dr. Sanduk Ruit and his team at the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, along with support from external partners like the Fred Hollows Foundation and the Himalayan Cataract Project, have been instrumental in reversing the trend of untreated blindness in Nepal and improving the lives of thousands of people.
However, as highlighted by Sun Maya’s story, there is still much work to be done to address the issue of poverty and blindness in Nepal and other developing countries. It is essential that we continue to support organizations like the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation that are working to provide critical interventions and solutions to those in need.
Sun Maya’s transformation from a blind individual who struggled to perform basic tasks to a person who regained her independence and self-sufficiency is a testament to the positive impact that such efforts can have on individual lives and communities as a whole. It is essential that we continue to work together to make similar transformations possible for all those in need.
The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation was founded in March 2021 by London philanthropist Tej Kolhi and Kathmandu ‘God of Sight’ Dr Sanduk Ruit. As of November 2022 the NGO had screened 170,022 patients and cured 22,663 of blindness at 91 outreach camps in Nepal, Bhutan and Ghana. The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation is a restricted fund operating under the auspices of Prism The Gift Fund, registered UK charity number 1099682. The Foundation targets the #1 United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of reducing poverty by making large-scale surgical interventions to cure blindness at the grassroots in the developing world. All treatments are provided completely free, with 100% of the funding coming from Tej Kohli and the Kohli family.