Ms Shruti Varadarajan
My friend Dheepthaa and I had the incredible opportunity of spending two exciting weeks of our summer vacation at the SankaraNethralaya Hospital in Chennai.
When we walked into the complex on Monday (April 1), the first thing that struck me wasn’t the mammoth-sized main building, nor was it the enormous compound- it was the courtesy and the helpfulness with which the staff welcomed us, and introduced us to the hospital. We were taken around the complex, and introduced to its various departments, by Mr. A Mahalingam from the SankaraNethralaya Academy, who was extremely helpful and answered each one of our numerous questions pertaining to the hospital, the patients and the various diseases that affected the eye, in detail.
From the second day, we spent our time in the Jaslok Community Ophthalmic Centre (JCOC). This center offers high-quality treatment to the lower-income strata of the Indian society, pro bono. Thanks to their efforts, the rural people of India now have better accessibility to health care, particularly eye care.
Although I was a little nervous, at first, to be working at the JCOC and worried that I might be in the way of the staff, my anxiety was unfounded. The JCOC staff comprised of the friendliest and most helpful people I had met, who were willing to explain every single step that I had to carry out, with the utmost patience. Despite the fact that I made several errors in the beginning, they continued to instruct and teach me without getting annoyed. Out of all the things I did at the JCOC, I think I will always remember the cheerful and friendly staff who guided me through the two weeks.
Working at the JCOC was a lot of hard work, as there would be a continuous flow of patients coming in from various camps, brought by bus from distant rural locations. Almost all of them were illiterate, and half of them didn’t even speak Tamil. Diagnosing their diseases and treating them is an arduous process. I was always exhausted at the end of the morning, but nonetheless, I felt pleased that I had contributed in a small way to helping our society.
The one thing I will take away from this experience is the effort that this organization puts into its treatment of their patients. While there are innumerable eye hospitals in Chennai that cater to the eye-care of rich people, there are close to none that care for the poor. SankaraNethralaya is one hospital that treats its patients, whether rich and poor, in the same manner. I didn’t learn how to operate on patients, or how to administer medication in the short two weeks that I attended, but what I did learn was that compassion and love for all the people of India, whether rich or poor, is this hospital’s motto. And from today, I hope to make it mine as well.
I’m extremely grateful to the people at the SankaraNethralaya Academy, and to the staff at JCOC, for welcoming me into their fold and making these two weeks an incredibly enriching and memorable experience.Ms Shruti Varadarajan & Ms Dheepthaa