A Day in the Life of a Seva Outreach Worker
Meet Mr. Leng Pisith.
Leng is a community eye health outreach
worker based out of the Seva fi eld offi ce in
Battambang, Cambodia. Each week Leng
packs up his set of basic optometry tools and
travels to remote communities throughout
his assigned region of Cambodia along the
border of Thailand.
The area he travels is rural and undeveloped
with particularly high poverty rates. Signs along
the roads warn of the presence of land mines
that still riddle the fi elds. Farmers missing a leg
or arm are a sad and all-too-common sight.
To reach isolated villages Leng travels on his
Seva provided motorbike, riding for hours until
the pavement ends — this is when his journey
Dirt roads quickly turn to muddy, washed out
paths. Passing villages of thatch roof huts,
Leng often fi nds himself in areas where there
are no hospitals and no clinics.
Families in these villages live in poverty, or
even extreme poverty (surviving on less than
$1 per day) and struggle to grow enough
food to sustain themselves.
As Leng rolls into the fi rst village, he explains
"I cover as much as 120 miles each day.
When I arrive in a village I fi rst meet with the
community leadership and elders and plan for
a group eye screening." With their blessing,
he gains the trust of those who live in the
surrounding area. Leng goes on to note "I'll
work in the remote community for 5 days and
screen approximately 40 people per day."
After locating a central place, he unpacks his
eye exam tools and prepares for the fi rst day
of screenings. The eye chart Leng has brought
looks a bit different as it does not have a
variety of letters as we are used to, but rather
has been designed so that he can provide eye
exams where more than one in four who come
to have their eyes checked are illiterate.
As word spreads throughout the village,
community members line up to have their
vision checked. Many are elderly and arrive
led by a grandchild. These elders often are
unable to even see the eye charts, suffering
from mature cataracts that have clouded their
vision leaving them to struggle with blindness.
It is a common story for Leng to hear that
the child who led them is not in school.
With their parents busy in the fi elds tending
to the crops, the child is left home to care for
their grandparent who would be otherwise
helpless at home alone.
Other patients who arrive suffer from eye
injuries, infections, and other potentially
blinding and often painful conditions.
Leng carefully evaluates each person who
comes to have their eyes checked. He explains
that donors to Seva will provide them with
whatever it is they need so that they will be
able to see clearly again.
For children, this may mean simply providing
a pair of prescription glasses, allowing them
to see the blackboard, to stay in school,
and hopefully allowing them a chance at
a better future.
For the elders and those who have conditions
that require corrective surgery, Leng arranges
free transportation to the Seva funded eye
clinic in Battambang.
Here, thanks to Seva's generous donors, these
patients receive world-class eye care. For the
many with cataracts, a 15-minute surgery with
a man-made lens implant restores their sight,
providing a new lease on life.
These services, even just the cost of travel to
see a doctor, would have been prohibitive to
these rural villagers.
World Health Organization fi gures estimate
that around the globe 80% of blindness can
be prevented or cured.
Leng notes that "The best part of my job
is seeing the success rate of the eye care
and teaching people about the services."
He goes on to explain "when I can show
them someone who has already had a
successful treatment, they are not so afraid
of the eye care."
"One patient I identifi ed could not see
anything at all, not even the faces of his
grandchildren. Thanks to Seva he was able
to receive surgery. I was there when he fi rst
saw his grandchildren, and he also recognized
me. He called out to thank me for bringing
him to the clinic."
Thanks to outreach workers like Leng and Seva
donors like you, we have restored eyesight to
nearly 3.5 million people around the globe.