This week I’m in northwestern Cambodia, shooting a job for the Seva. The first time I shot for Seva, was back in 2004. Now almost a decade later I’m delighted to see that their programs have expanded and are flourishing here. I am equally happy to blog about Seva, so that you can understand a bit about the important work that they are doing.

Cambodia has a population of about 14 million people and there are just 11 (eleven) opthalmologists working in the country! This fact is astounding  to me. How can just 11 opthalmologists take care of all the eye-care needs of such a large population? The answer is, that they can’t.

The problem is that there are 95,000 people blind from cataracts in Cambodia, 2 out of 3 of those are women.
The obvious solution is to provide sight-restoring cataract surgery  which can be performed in around 15 minutes. (it’s absolutely true…I watched and photographed three such cases yesterday)
The Cost of cataract surgery in the USA is a few thousand dollars, but here in Cambodia, Seva can do it for just  $50.

Seva’s Goal has been, and remains to be, to build the capacity of Cambodian eye care personnel to prevent blindness and provide 4,000 sight-restoring surgeries, annually, but getting opthalmalogists to work here is often a big challenge.

In 2007, Seva and local partners established the Battambang Ophthalmic Care Center (BOCC) in Battambang, one of Cambodia’s poorest provinces. In its first year of operation, BOCC provided more than 3,000 sight-restoring surgeries and over 25,000 eye examinations, outperforming every other eye clinic in the country. To put it in perspective, Seva currently supports one quarter of all eye exams and surgeries in Cambodia with just two ophthalmologists!

As you know, I have worked with over 85 different NGOs. Every one of my clients are implementing fantastic programs which help disadvantaged people all over the world. Let me be clear, I’m not asking or suggesting that you donate to Seva or any other of the organizations that I shoot for, that’s not the point of this blog, but if you’re like me, sometimes a photo or a story “hits home”.

Since I worked for many years in the orthopaedic field, I have a soft spot in my heart for those who are afflicted with orthopaedic problems, and so that’s often where I make donations or give financial assistance. Perhaps you know someone who was blind, had a serious eye condition, or have a parent who had cataract surgery and was given back their sight. If so, the gift of sight for a blind person might be right up your alley. But maybe your “thing” is micro-finance, community development or “empowering women”.

Anyway, as a photographer, I am a very visual person, and I can’t imagine life without sight. Being reminded that Seva can restore sight to someone at a nominal cost, I feel compelled to tell you about it too.  Again, I’m not soliciting for donations on behalf of Seva, I just want you to know the facts about what they accomplish.

Now, from a strictly photographic soapbox, I would like to share with you some images I shot for Seva yesterday. I’ve posted more than 40. Few would be considered award-winners or “cover shots” by any stretch of the imagination, but I post them so that you’ll be able to see what types of shots I deliver to my clients after a typical shoot like this. The final deliverable to Seva will be in the neighborhood of 400 images and a half a dozen HD video clips. It is my hope that I’ve done a good enough job with the photos, so that when Seva Canada uses them, people will be compelled to find out more about their work in Cambodia.

Restored French Colonial building, Battambang, Cambodia

BOCC Office, Battambang, Cambodia

Van picking up patients from rural villages to be transported to BOCC

Low-tech autoclave using LP gas burner

waiting for surgery

recovery room after cataract surgery

Battambang’s Central Market

For some more images that I shot for Seva, check this link to a job I shot for them back in 2004. At that time they were using the bamboo train to gain access to remote villages near Battambang  http://www.karlgrobl.com/Photojournalism/Seva/page1.htm

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