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Sonali’s story

Nine-year-old Sonali Das, a resident of Kanmari village in Sandeshkhali 1 block of North 24 Parganas, wants to grow up and become a teacher. A student of class III, Sonali loves studying English. “She is very good in her studies. She can write in English also,” says a proud father Krishnapado Das. “She should have been in Class IV,” mentions mother Jharna Das referring to her daughter’s eye problem which had affected her life academically and otherwise.

Three years ago, Sonali had been playing with other friends in her neighbourhood. A boy had thrown a stone which hit her left eye. Her parents found her crying, but she refused to tell them what had happened. “She had got frightened. She had thought her father would scold her,” shares Jharna. But soon, Sonali started having problems with her eye sight. Her vision became cloudy. She could not keep up in class. She stopped playing out in the late evenings and nights. Then, a white spot began to form on the retina of the left eye. Jharna noticed this and shared with her husband. The couple took her to a doctor who said that a cataract had developed and she needed surgery. Krishnapado and Jharna were worried and unsure of what to do. Meanwhile, Sonali’s vision began deteriorating.

An elderly lady who was associated with another initiative of the local eye health partner organisation told them to bring Sonali to the next eye health camp that would be held in their area. The couple did so. The doctor at the camp, held under Sightsavers’ eye health initiative in the Sundarbans, referred Sonali to the base hospital. Sonali was admitted to the hospital in August 2014 and the surgery was conducted. “I made sure that she wore the black spectacles that were given for a year. I did not let her bathe in the pond because the water may be dirty and affect her eye” recounts Jharna.

Post-surgery, Sonali’s vision cleared up. She has gone back to her routine of going to school and playing with her younger brother who confides that she hits him! The restrictions imposed by the protective parents have had mixed results. Playing with other children, taking part in sports in school and other such activities are still forbidden (for fear of injuring her eye again/picking up any infections). But the fun loving Sonali is back to splashing around in the pond. “No. Now there is no problem,” says Sonali with a broad smile on her face.

 

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