WHAT STARTED IT ALL
WHAT STARTED IT ALL
In the winter of 2013, a young Sydney optometrist by the name of Shaun Chang was trekking towards Gokyo Ri (5340m) in the Sargamatha Everest) National Park. Waist deep snow and bad weather cut his trip short and he was forced to turn back after reaching Macchermo (4400m). Shaun was devastated.
While resting in Khumjung, Shaun decided to visit the Sherpa hospital built by his childhood hero Sir Edmund Hillary. Ed and Tenzing were the first men to successfully summit Mt Everest on 29 May, 1953. Ed would later use his fame to improve the welfare of the Sherpa people by building schools, hospitals, bridges and three runways.
A doctor by the name of Kamitemba came to greet Shaun. He was an early pupil of Hillary’s first school and had worked at the hospital most of his life.
“What do you do for a living, Shaun?” asked Kamitemba
“I am an optometrist from Sydney” replied Shaun.
“An optometrist”, exclaimed Kamitemba. His eyes widened with a little excitement. “We have some children at the local schools who have trouble seeing the board. Can you teach us how to examine and treat uncorrected refractive error?”
“Certainly! This is what I do back home!”, Shaun enthusiastically replied.
It was a quiet day at the hospital. Snow was falling heavily outside and visibility was poor. Kamitemba bought Shaun inside a storage room where he revealed an old Nikon focimeter, three bags of donated glasses and an incomplete trial lens set from 1966. Shaun marveled at the old equipment and pictured Ed carefully handling them during the hospital’s construction.
That afternoon, Shaun pieced together the trial lens set and taught the doctors and hospital staff how to use the focimeter to measure spectacles. However there was simply too much to cover and the hospital clearly lacked proper equipment. The highlight of the day came when hospital manager Mingma Norbu Sherpa picked up a trial lens and discovered he was a -1.00D myope.
“Oh! I can see better!” declared Mingma
Shaun returned to Australia and formed Eyes4Everest. The team of 4 included himself, his pharmacist brother and two optometrists that responded to an article he wrote.
At the children’s conference, Shaun told his story to Sasha Sergejew the National Manager of Lens Manufacturing Company ‘CR Surfacing’. Without hesitation, Sasha promised to sponsor Eyes4Everest.
On October 2014, the team of four traveled back to the hospital where they saw 152 patients (mostly children) over two and a half days. 36 pairs of spectacles were prescribed. Medicated eye drops were prescribed and cataracts were identified. Despite their efforts, Shaun and the team left feeling heartbroken. There were still people waiting outside to be seen. Children who had walked from villages four hours away were left to walk home in the dark.
The Eyes4Everest film is the story of Shaun’s journey to the Sherpa homeland in 2015. He bought a bigger team of optometrists and made a commitment to travel to the villages. You can see the trailer here on http://eyes4everest.org.au/film
Today, Shaun Chang continues to fight for primary eye care in mountain communities of Nepal. Since that first trip in 2014, Eyes4Everest has examined nearly 1000 patients in the Everest and Annapurna region of Nepal. They also believe in sustainability and is currently training young optometrist graduate Tashi Doma Sherpa to continue eye care in remote mountain communities of Nepal.
These days Shaun is with his young family on the beaches of Newcastle. However, Shaun and his Eyes4Everest friends are always looking to catch up with Australian or New Zealand optometrists on another epic adventure.
“I am always dreaming of the mountains. That cold breeze, eerie silence and beauty all around. It’s like time stood still and I am me again”
Lets connect on Facebook or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy to chat!
As Shaun concludes the story of Eyes4Everest’s humble beginning. He ponders over the words of his childhood role model Sir Ed Hillary who passed away in January 2008. “I have enjoyed great satisfaction from my climb of Everest and my trips to the poles. But there’s no doubt that my most worthwhile things have been the building of schools and medical clinics”
आइजफोरएभरेस्ट (Eyes4Everest) खुम्जुंग क्षेत्रमा आँखा स्वास्थ्य जांचका साथसाथै खुन्दे हिलारी अस्पतालमा आँखा क्लिनिक खोल्नका निम्ति समर्पित एक संस्था हो | हामीले यस भेगमा बसोबास गर्ने बालबच्चाहरुको आँखारोग तथा दृष्टि समस्याहरुको पहिचानको लागि निशुल्क आँखा तथा दृष्टि जांच गर्न गईरहेका छौ |
हाम्रा बालबच्चाहरुले ७५ प्रतिशत ज्ञानका कुराहरु देखेर अर्थात् राम्रो दृष्टि भएमा सिक्न सक्दछन | त्यसैले जतिसक्दो चाडो बालबच्चाहरुको दृष्टि शक्तिको पहिचान हुन आवश्यक छ | साथै बालबच्चाहरुको दृष्टिको पूर्ण विकासमा असर पुग्न नपाउदै तपाईले तपाईका बालबच्चाहरुको आँखा तथा दृष्टिको उपचार गराउन आवश्यक छ |
यस खुन्दे हिलारी अस्पतालमा हामी तपाईका बालबच्चाहरुको आँखा तथा दृष्टिको जांच गर्ने छौ | यदि तपाईका बालबच्चाहरुलाई चस्मा लगाउन आवश्यक भएमा हामीले उपयूक्त पावरको चस्माको पूर्जा उपलब्ध गराउने छौ जुन यस अस्पतालको एकजना डाक्टरले काठमाडौँ लिएर गई सोहिअनुसारको पावरको चस्मा बनाएर तपाईहरुलाई दिनु हुने छ | यदि तपाईका बालबच्चाहरुलाई कुनै आँखा सम्बन्धि रोग लागेको छ भने हामी तपाईहरुलाई एउटा पूर्जा दिई आवश्यक उपचारको लागि कंहा र कहिले संचालन हुने आँखा शिविरमा वा आँखा विशेषज्ञकोमा जाने भनेर जानकारी गराउने छौ |
तपाई आज आफ्ना बालबच्चाहरुको आँखा उपचारको लागि यस अस्पतालमा उपस्थित हुनु भएकोमा धन्यबाद दिन चाहन्छौ | यो उपस्थितिले तपाईको बालबच्चाहरुमा देखेर सिक्नसक्ने शक्ति अर्थात् राम्रो दृष्टि पूर्णरुपमा भए नभएको पत्ता लगाउन मद्दत गर्ने छ | यसबाहेक तपाईहरुको आजको उपस्थितिले हामीलाई यस भेगमा आँखा तथा दृष्टि सम्बन्धि रोगहरुको समस्या कुन अवस्थामा छ भन्ने बुझ्न मद्दत गर्ने छ र हाम्रो संस्था आइजफोरएभरेस्ट (Eyes4Everest) लाई पूर्ण तयारीका साथ फेरि अर्कोपटक आउन सहयोग तथा प्रेरणा मिल्ने छ भन्ने विश्वास लिएका छौ | यहाहरुको सहयोगको लागि फेरि एक पटक धन्यबाद |
संस्थापक, आइजफोरएभरेस्ट (Eyes4Everest)
Sir Edmund Hillary was my childhood hero growing up in New Zealand. He was a humble man who used his fame to help the Sherpas. In February 2013, I visited the Hillary hospital in the heart of the Sargamatha (Mt Everest) National Park. Hospital director Dr. Kamitemba Sherpa explained that some children were having vision difficulties at school. Could I help them? I quickly discovered that the hospital did not have the skills or facilities to address this so I returned to Australia to form Eyes4Everest.
In 2014, CR Surfacing Australian Lens Company, Adidas Eyewear and the Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists provided for our small team of three optometrists with enough equipment and educational material. We saw 152 patients mostly children over two and a half day. Unfortunately, there were many more waiting to be examined. Some children had walked 4 hours to see us and had to walk back in the dark. It was heartbreaking. I knew we had to expand.
To provide primary eye care to mountain communities of Nepal. Furthermore, the objects of the Associations are to:
225 patients were examined in Everest and 184 patients were examined in Annapurna.
55 pairs of glasses were distributed in Everest and 55 pairs in Annapurna.
15 volunteers joined us in 2018 to help out in the Everest and Annapurna region.