Manjit Thakur / New Delhi
Saqib Gore’s personality contrasts with his core; the energetic, tall, and well-built person that he is, Gore hardly looks like someone whose heart bleeds for the helpless and the deprived humans. Gore, who hails from Badlapur, Maharashtra, has so far helped 13 lakh people regain their eyesight. In Thane and adjoining districts, he is called Drishti Mitra (Friend of eyesight) for his monumental public service. He speaks about it in the typical Mumbai dialect, “Apun ke samne koi aadmi ki aankh ki roshni chalve jayege to apun upperwalle ko kya aankh dikhayega (if I see a human being lose his eyesight and do nothing to help him how will I face the Almighty one day.”
Gore walks his talk. He is behind lakhs of people regaining their vision in the Thane and neighbouring areas. He provides them free cataract treatment, including surgeries. Gore says, “In India each year we have more than two million cataract cases and also the highest number of people who lose their eyesight to cataract. It’s a simple disease and in 63 percent of cases, it remains uncured and makes humans lose their eyesight. In all, more than 80 percent of the cases of visual impairment are also due to cataract.”
Saqib Gore has been engaged in this work for 28 years. The 3 lakh people who have regained their vision due to his work include 48,000 who had to undergo surgery for cataracts. Gore says, “Cataracts eventually lead to blindness, so why don’t people get operated on in time? Most of them don’t know about delaying the treatment of cataracts. That’s why public awareness is necessary.”
He says, “He says since cataract is not fatal, it’s often ignored as an age-related development. The family of the person affected also takes it as a normal part of the aging process.”
His experience of ignoring cataracts had come early to him in his life. His family had fallen on bad days and was in deep financial problems. So, in the early eighties, Gore left his studies and started working as a truck cleaner to provide for his family. He was paid Rs 12 as wages. In a gruff voice and moist eyes, Gore says, “The money was not enough, so I started Hammali (the job of a porter)’ along with it. I ended up making Rs 32.”
An enterprising Gore soon launched his business and gradually he became well off. Those days, one of his elderly relatives passed away. Gore says, “At the time of death, Zahira Begum had no restlessness on her face. My mother told me that she was going from one dark world to another dark world.” Gore says that his relative had been without a vision for 30 years. That day he resolved to help people who were facing the same plight that Zahira begum faced. Zahira had become blind due to a cataract that was never treated. in 1992, he organized his first camp and he has never looked back since and his journey continues.
He spreads awareness about the timely treatment of cataracts. He and his team members speak to people. And it’s not an easy task. Gore says, “The people of the village, especially the less educated ones, do not entertain us. They close the door on us. However, our job is to convince them.’
He examines the eyes of the aged people and arranges surgeries for those who need it. The patients who undergo surgeries have to stay in hospital for three days. He bears the cost of surgery, the lenses, and later the spectacles for each patient. Gore has not set up a non-governmental organization and is not supported by any outsider in this gigantic humanitarian cause. He spends his money on this project.
He says, “For the last three decades, I have provided free eye treatment to 1.3 million people. Of them, 48,000 people underwent cataract surgery and provided spectacles to about 9 lakh people.”
What motivates Gore to do what he is doing? Does he want to become a Naamdar (MLA)? On this question, Gore smiles and says,” Nope. I have no NGO: nor do I want to contest elections.”
In a recently released report, the World Health Organization (WHO) has praised the efforts of the Indian government in fighting vision defects and blindness. Of course, the success that India is getting in this direction is also the contribution of people like Saqib Gore.
However, Gore points out in his Mumbai accent, “We (India) are still lagging in creating mass awareness since we all are busy in earning our bread and butter.”
Source: Awaz The Voice