By Susan Paul Mathew
A calm Sunday morning. Inspired by the week’s eventful activities, the start of a new week awakened a part of me which had slept off during the mass.
Quite unusual is the sight of a still and quiet Snehabhavan on any day of the week, let alone a glorious Sunday. It stirred a pang of concern from someplace deep inside. Father Sunny was nowhere in sight. Perturbing , to say the least. It was so… wrong. I spot a couple of volunteers and exhale more dramatically than I intended to.
As I approach the T.V. hall, I see some of the boys removing their footwear and tip-toeing their way into it single file. Queues are rare here unless there’s food at the end of the wait. Silent queues are non-existent, almost a laugh.
On peeking in, I see three tables separated by chairs behind which sat ophthalmologist Dr. Koteshwara Rao and his assistants. A MAD volunteer who worked at the Giridhar Eye Institute had initiated this eye check up for 111 boys from both the Don Bosco shelters – Snehabhavan and Big Boys.
Thus the trepidation in the boys movements. ‘Doctor’, ‘syringe’, ‘medicine’ and now this new term ‘check-up’ had their minds racing, their irrepressible spirits cautious.
The Giridhar Eye Institute showed magnanimity conducting the eye camp free of cost and offering to exempt dire cases in meeting the need for glasses. 20 boys were shortlisted for further appointment at their clinic within a month’s time.
All the boys had to register themselves with the clinic staff and proceed to read the digits off the Snellen’s chart posted on the wall twenty feet away from where they sat. They read aloud the numbers of varying sizes keeping one eye closed.
Dr. Eliza Anthony pointed out that as the eye muscles are strong in children, one could not be aware if either eye was straining unless the condition grew worse. She advises that it is the responsibility of the parents, guardians and teachers to monitor the changes in a child. For instance, if a child insists on sitting only in the front few rows in class or strange patterns of reading are observed, it must be critically questioned.
Cultivating correct reading habits and consumption of a nutritious balanced diet of leafy veggies and foods rich in vitamin A go a long way in taking care of the eyes.
The 3 hour camp shed light on the current eye condition of these boys and alerted the authorities on the same.
The boys, equally oblivious to the gravity of the issue at hand, gathered together to celebrate the rest of the day with a mean game of caroms.