The operations for the 38 remaining patients commenced at 2pm in the afternoon and were completed at 11pm that night. Chai and cookies were served at regular intervals to nourish and warm those waiting, especially after the sun set. A simple meal was served for dinner. The patients were given warm beds to sleep in after their operations while their carers stayed beside their beds, wrapped in blankets for warmth. It is standard practice in Indian hospitals for a caregiver to always remain with a patient.
The next day, December 26th, the local doctor removed the bandages and checked the eye of each patient. When the check was complete, the patients received their dark glasses and once all patients were checked instructions were given for the drops, medicines and creams that are needed to care for the eye post-surgery. These instructions were repeated many times to both the patients and their carers so that they would be fully understood. In addition there will be a check-up with each patient in the week following the surgery to ensure the instructions are being followed. This diligence is essential to maintain the program’s 100% success rate.
Next patients and carers were given a light meal of suji – a wheat based cereal – cooked with herbs and spices. This is a traditional and wholesome breakfast. The patients then received a gift bag containing a mala, a book of chants and a photo of Sai Maa. Two small loaves of bread were added –a welcome gift to these extremely poor villagers. Many of these humble villagers offered prayers of gratitude before accepting their gifts. And finally, before returning to their homes in the mission van many took the opportunity to enjoy the sun and peace of the camp that had welcomed them and offered the opportunity for their sight to be restored.