A Fellow’s Journey with Sightsavers India Fellowship Program

January 2024

Dr Saif, a dedicated professional with roots in a small town in Uttar Pradesh, realised his childhood dream of becoming a doctor to impact society positively. After obtaining an M.S. in Ophthalmology from Aligarh Muslim University in 2022, he aspired to become an eye surgeon and joined the Sightsavers India Fellowship program. 

Selected based on a recommendation from a senior fellow, Dr. Saif underwent four months of intensive training at I Care Noida, honing his skills as a confident cataract surgeon and compassionate ophthalmologist. Post-training, he was assigned to The Christian Fellowship Hospital in Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh, an institution serving the rural and tribal population for over 50 years.

Under the supportive administration, Dr. Saif’s journey as an ophthalmologist began in January 2023, marked by continuous improvement in eye surgeries. Engaging with the local population through camps and field activities, he found deep satisfaction in alleviating patients’ anxieties, counselling them for surgery, and witnessing their improved vision outcomes.

During his tenure, Dr. Saif encountered patients who had suffered from near-blindness due to poverty and limited healthcare access. In collaboration with Sightsavers India, the hospital organised camps in villages and tribal areas, identifying patients and ensuring they received cataract surgery. Dr Saif personally performed surgeries on about a thousand eyes.

Dr Saif acknowledges their role in his professional evolution by expressing gratitude to Sightsavers India and the host organisation. One such success story is Shukham Bai, a 60-year-old widow from Chhuria village in Rajnandgaon.

Struggling with deteriorating eyesight for two years, Shukham Bai’s daily life became challenging. After several failed attempts by her daughters to persuade her to have surgery, she was introduced to Sightsavers India’s Chhuria Vision Centre, supported by Standard Chartered Bank. Dr Saif, during a counselling session, diagnosed her with bilateral cataracts, emphasising the risk of complete eyesight loss without surgery.

Realising the urgency, Shukham Bai was referred to the base hospital in Rajnandgaon. Pre-surgery, her vision was severely impaired, but after the successful procedure in her right eye, it improved significantly to 6/18. Overjoyed with the results, Shukham Bai expressed her excitement about celebrating Diwali and experiencing the festival lights properly for the first time in years.

This success story exemplifies Dr Saif’s commitment to changing lives through surgical interventions and the collaborative efforts of Sightsavers India.