By Arun Chaudhari, past president of the Rotary Club of Mumbai West Coast, India
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of leading a team of four eye surgeons to Conakry, Guinea, West Africa to work with our strategic partner, Mercy Ships, on training eye surgeons in West Africa and performing cataract surgeries.
Our trip was coordinated by Mark Wright from Mercy Ships, and made possible through the work of many Rotary members in Mumbai, India, including our district governor, Dr Balakrishna Inamdar, a well-known gynaecologist.
The need was evident to us from the minute we arrived. Guinea has a huge backlog of people with cataracts awaiting surgery, and a severe shortage of qualified eye surgeons. Medical professionals there are eager to receive training in quick and safe surgical techniques and learn the latest methods of treatment for cataracts and other eye diseases.
Our vocational training team was able to treat hundreds of patients and perform 65 surgeries at the medical college in Conakry and at a nearby clinic for two weeks in late April and early May. We also trained 17 medical graduates in treatment and surgery of eye diseases. We were able to donate 16 ophthalmoscopes to the clinics through a service project of Rotary District 3140.
We also had a chance to visit with the Rotary clubs of Conakry and Camarene, exchanging ideas with them about vocational training teams, the need for local eye hospitals, and ways Rotary can help. As a result of our trip, one of the local eye surgeons became interested in joining Rotary.
The senior doctors at the clinic were grateful for our visit. My fellow team member K.V.Ravishankar, a member of the Rotary Club of Mysore West, noted how Rotary’s partnership with Mercy Ships is a perfect fit, bringing much needed medical services to people who need it along the West Coast of Africa.
Serving as a volunteer was a truly rewarding and exciting experience. I have been to many camps and training programs in the past, but working in Conakry gave me a true sense of service. I am very thankful to Rotary for providing me such a rich platform to serve humanity beyond caste, creed, religion, and borders.