On this Sunday, 10 candidates are brought from their villages to the eye surgery center. From the moment they are collected in the program van, they are treated as honored guests.
As well as the standard health checks, 3 final eye investigations are also performed to orient the surgeon. The men and women fill the clinic waiting room, each wearing a small piece of tape above the eye to be operated on. They all look like they are asleep but they have been told to close their eyes and relax in preparation for the surgery. During this wait they each receive about 30 drops of eye solutions at regular intervals. The surgeon is then ready to begin.
The women are operated on first, and the surgery itself can be viewed in the waiting room on a screen. This is the first time the surgeon is choosing to use pinhole surgery, a less invasive technique than used in previous years. When the first pictures are seen, the other patients start watching intently and asking the waiting room staff questions, until one of the nurses is sent out to remind them to keep their eyes closed and relax.
Once all the surgeries are complete, they again receive hot chai and biscuits. In addition each patient is given a small gift bag containing a photograph of Sai Maa, a small prayer book, a mala, dark sunglasses and enough medicine (with instructions) to last 30 days. Then they are driven back to their villages to rest. The bandage will be removed in a follow-up visit the next day and then they will return to the clinic for a thorough check up in 4 days time. But for them, the most life changing part of the experience is that through the grace of Maa and the generosity of the Sai Maa community they can again see their world clearly.