“I’m so grateful for this facility that cures blindness and gets people back on their feet.”
Ever since he was a child, Michael has taken joy in simple pleasures like reading books and playing chess. But a few years ago, he began experiencing loss of vision and has since been unable to do the things he loves. Michael cannot read, play chess, watch television, use a phone or handle his finances. He is nearly blind in one eye.
Michael lives in a small town in the Tavush province of Armenia, where access to quality eye care has not always been easy to obtain. Before the Armenian EyeCare Project, he and the other two million residents who live outside of Armenia’s capital would need to travel to Yerevan to receive eye care, something that is out of reach for many Armenians in these regions due to the cost and inconvenience of having to travel so far. Residents in these rural regions, with many of them on the poverty list, could not even afford the cost of care itself, much less having to travel to the capital to receive it.
“They told me you need surgery, but I can’t afford to pay for surgery,” Michael said. “I felt very downhearted and emotionally depressed.” What’s worse is that Michael had no one he could turn to for help. His family — two sons and one daughter — all lived out of the country.
Then, Michael learned of the Armenian EyeCare Project and our Regional Eye Clinics located in different provinces throughout Armenia. Since launching the program in 2015, five locations for the clinics have been selected based on need and with the intention of providing all of Armenia’s residents, even those living in rural areas, with access to quality eye care.
The Haig Boyadjian AECP Regional Eye Clinic, located in the Tavush province, opened in 2015 and was the first of five Regional Eye Clinics to be developed. The John and Hasmik Mgrdichian AECP Regional Eye Clinic opened in the Lori province in 2016; the Kapan AECP Regional Eye Clinic opened in the Syunik province in 2017; the John Ohannes Khachigian AECP Regional Eye Clinic will open in the Shirak province September 2018; and our fifth Regional Eye Clinic will be located in the Vayots Dzor province and is scheduled to open in 2020.
Because of our Regional Eye Clinics, Michael was able to get the surgery he needed in a nearby facility, at the Haig Boyadjian AECP Regional Eye Clinic in Tavush. He is just one of over 130,000 patients who will be using this clinic for care — no longer having to travel hours and spend precious resources to receive help.
“I feel a big difference,” Michael says following his eye surgery, as he points out all the people in the room alongside him, something he was unable to do before his procedure. He also no longer has to walk around with a cane. And best of all, he is finally able to enjoy his many pastimes yet again: reading books and playing chess.
“Sight is a miraculous thing,” Michael says. “It extends one’s quality of life.” He thanks the Armenian EyeCare Project, its doctors and its donors, for bringing purpose — and those simple pleasures — back into his life.
“Because of their help, I’m back to reading every day!” Michael says with excitement. “I’m just so grateful that there is such a facility that can cure blindness and get people back on their feet.”