Myanmar patients' vision-clearing trip on "Bright Journey"

Updated: January 15, 2020 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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After suffering from cataract for two years, 66-year-old San Tun thought he would never see the world clearly again.

As everything was blurry in his sight, San Tun could hardly walk by himself, not to mention earning his daily bread. Cataract surgery could cure the disease, but his family could not afford it.

Under a charity program "Bright Journey" jointly launched by Chinese and Myanmar organizations, San Tun took free surgery conducted by Chinese doctors and after a couple of months of recovery, his life was back on track.

"Thanks to the medical operation, I feel comfortable looking at things," San Tun said. "I am finally able to do something useful for my family, like watering flowers and cleaning rooms."

The people San Tun wanted to thank the most were Chinese doctors. "They fed us (patients) and helped us take pills, just like my families," he said. "I don't know what to say but I am very grateful. Without the surgery, my eyes would not become any better over the rest of my life."

San Tun is not the only one in Myanmar benefiting from the "Bright Journey" program.

First launched in 2011, the program provided Myanmar patients with free cataract surgery conducted by experienced Chinese doctors.

There have been more than 6,000 cases of free cataract surgery in various places across Myanmar, including Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyidaw, undertaken by multiple Chinese non-government organizations under the program over the past three years.

In the past, as cataract surgery was still exorbitant for low-income families, many patients just abandoned the treatment and lost the hope to resume their normal lives.

"I was nervous when I entered the operation room, but Chinese doctors let me know that there is nothing I should be scared of," said 63-year-old Khin Hla Mon.

The doctors showed consideration for her anxiety before the operation and managed to calm her down though they did not understand the local language, Khin Hla Mon said. "After the operation, I don't need to go to the hospital anymore," she said.

Not only the surgery costs were exempted, Khin Hla Mon was also offered free meals for better recovery, as well as trips and accommodation affiliated to her treatment.

"I hope China will continue with the program to help more people unable to pay for the treatment in Myanmar," she said. "I am grateful that I had this opportunity."

For many people, regaining vision means restoring hope for life. Khin Hla Mon's hope is also the goal of Chinese doctors as more similar actions including free surgeries are in the pipeline.

In the latest effort to improve medical assistance, China's Yunnan Provincial People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries donated 9 million kyats (about 6,000 U.S. dollars) and 15 sets of medical equipment to the Sitagu Shwe Pyi Hein Eye Hospital in August 2019.

"The surgery shows the 'Paukphaw' (fraternal) friendship between China and Myanmar and I believe we will have closer and closer people-to-people ties," said Hla Oo, 60, a patient who has achieved a full recovery after a surgery in 2016.

Editor: 曹家宁