Eye check up camp for women artisans of the desert areas

(May 2010)

For artisans, art is their soul. It assumes the highest priority for them not only because it is their source of income but also something very close to their heart, being an inheritance of their forefathers which they cherish throughout their lives. Art is their identity. A majority of the art, be it embroidery, appliqué work, hand block printing, bell making or anything else requires intensive use of eyes. Eyes are the most important tools for an artisan and this is especially true for those who do minute work like embroidery. Most of the artisans lack the awareness for proper eye care and medical check up. Another reason for neglecting their eyes is the fact that artisans can’t afford the medical checkups and treatment and therefore sometimes continue to suffer from eye ailments. In many interior desert areas, artisans live in small & scattered hamlets with no medical facility available for many miles.

To help the artisans in this regard, we organized a free `eye checkup camp’ for the poor artisans living in the remote desert areas near Barmer, Rajasthan in association with our partner NGO known as SURE who actively works for the upliftment of the rural population in that area.

In the camp, around 326 poor rural women artisans and their families belonging to the remote villages of `Vindani’, `Gafan’, `Navatala’, `Sarupe ka tala’ and `Samelon ka tala’ in Rajasthan were given free eye check up by a qualified ophthalmologist.

Facilities provided in the camp were:

  • Free eye check up
  • Distribution of good quality spectacles
  • Distribution of free medicines
  • Identification of patients for eye-surgeries (these will be later operated upon at subsidized rates)
  • Follow up after the camp
  • Initially, the women were slightly skeptical of the whole process as for some it’s their very first time. But as some of them got their eyes checked, the slightest doubts were cleared.

A total of 120 people were diagnosed to have poor vision i.e. weak eyesight. Out of these, 110 were women artisans and the rest belonged to other categories. All these 120 patients were provided (free of cost) with good quality eye glasses, for their vision correction. In addition to this, around 54 people, diagnosed with acute eye ailments were advised to get operated. They will be helped to get eye surgeries at subsidised rates. Also, free medicines were distributed in the camp. The feedback of the camp was positive as people want more such camps to be organized.