Dr. Sanduk Ruit is an ophthalmologist on a mission to restore sight to Nepal’s blind. He is the executive director of the nonprofit Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Kathmandu, Nepal, and has operated on more than 130,000 patients. He has adopted innovative surgical techniques for cataracts and often travels to perform operations, walking up to seven days hauling surgical equipment to reach patients who live in Nepal’s most remote villages. Why does Dr. Ruit do this? He lost family to treatable diseases and knows what it’s like not to have access to healthcare.
Mingling in hostels you tend to meet many adventurous spirits finding their way in the world. Among those I met a young girl with similar interests in the social work/humanitarian field in Chennai, India. She was nearing the end of her yearlong journey and as we talked we reminisced about the hardships and victories we found along the way. She told me of her 1st day working at an HIV positive orphanage in Bangalore where a child fell and cut herself. My new found friend's immediate reaction was to clean the wound, which she instinctively did, as everyone watched open mouthed, too afraid to say a word. After numerous blood tests she found out she had not contracted HIV, but it was a wake up call. She had forgotten she was in a different place, without the luxury of basic necessities. Finally we got to the point I asked what she felt her biggest accomplishment was during this trip? She looked me straight in the eye's and said, "I feel like I have accomplished absolutely nothing, I have made no difference in this place." Here was a girl who had been devoting her life for the past year to HIV positive orphans, trafficked girls, and battered women yet she felt like she had accomplished nothing. I was floored and thought if she hasn't made a difference have I? I proceeded to make a list of how I felt when I was impacted by volunteers when I was younger, and what difference they made in my life today. As I thought, I realized we need to look at our small victories. Realize we can't change a country overnight, but we can provide a motherless child with love. We can let these children see what else there is in the world. We can give them the confidence to succeed. We can open their minds. Whether it be for 2 days or 2 years, that child is going to remember the love they felt from you. This is why we started Humanitarian Travel Tips doing medical screenings and vocational training. We can't change a country overnight, but by providing glasses to a child who can't see a chalk board we are changing their opportunities and their life forever.
Without glasses these children can't learn. They are put into the lowest classes of children deemed unfit for learning, given little to no teacher supervision, and leftover books (if there are any). With glasses they are able to move up in school, they won't fall through the cracks, they have the opportunities to reach their full potential. The girls who got the glasses go on to be educated women who as a whole have fewer children and take better care of those children. On the same token teaching women a vocation like sewing gives her the ability to provide for her family, send her children to school, and give the children the nutrition they need to concentrate during school. They raise educated children, thus changing a generation. Too often we underestimate the power of the good we are doing and we shouldn't. Every smile, every friendship, every amount of love you give to a person makes a difference to that person. I have been at orphanages long term and you don't realize how long after you leave those children still talk about you, or the pictures you give them they will hold onto forever. Don't underestimate the power of good in this world you can do.
Chambrey is the founder of Humanitarian Travel Tips an organization that raises the standard of living to people in developing countries through health screenings and vocational training. We are excited to announce that we are now welcoming volunteers to join with us on these initiatives this summer. Chambrey is an avid yogi, got her undergrad in Finance and is working on a guidebook outlining step by step how to best fundraise for your next big adventure. You can find her on facebook or follow her blog.