After a two year hiatus of hands-on teaching and surgical training in Tibet due to political considerations beyond our control, the TVP was able to briefly return in September 2009 for the maximum of ten days granted us by the Chinese Foreign Affairs Office to provide much needed and anticipated eye-care to some 43 blind children and youngsters in the jointly run Braille Without Borders Lhasa School and Shigatse Farm for Blind Children. Our affiliation with these programs goes back to their founding. Every year since 1997 our doctors have examined all new and ongoing students, to maximize their comfort and occasionally perform cataract surgery. Their programs have also been an invaluable referral resource for us as well. When working in remote rural communities throughout central Tibet, we often encounter neglected, blind children (usually suffering from congenital defects or peri-natal infections). We have been able to provide families with the means to visit and enroll their child in one of these rehabilitation schools. Thus we have had the pleasure over many years of jointly caring for and appreciating how "our kids" have flourished in these programs, as dedicated students learn skills to pursue their own independent lives.
In May of 2010 we returned to Lhasa to provide surgical follow-up for these children, as well as to evaluate all new arrivals to the school. In addition, we taught new surgical techniques to the skilled Tibetan surgeons and technicians we have trained these past 15 years. Plentiful supplies were left at the Lhasa Eye Center for future use by our Tibetan colleagues to provide free-of-charge services for needy Tibetans.
Most recently, a select few of our core Tibetan surgeons and technicians attended the 25th Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Congress (a Joint Meeting with the American Academy of Ophthalmology) held in Beijing in September 2010. We were happy to sponsor their attending this valuable educational meeting where they had the opportunity to learn about contemporary ophthalmology developments and ongoing strategies throughout China and to address issues of access and quality care-delivery similar to those we face in Tibet.