Two years ago, Lha began its “Clear Vision” program to provide free optometrist appointments and corrective lenses to residents of McLeod Ganj. This health care program came to an end when the funds were depleted. This year, thanks to the generous donations from Miss Aubrey Lynne to the Clear Vision program and Frances Phares of Louisiana to the Dental project, we have been able to both continue our provision of eye care and expand the program to also encompass dental care.
Since September 2011 Lha has provided 46 residents with eye appointments at Delek Hospital. With the cooperation of an optician in Dharamsala, Lha was also able to purchase prescription glasses for 31 individuals who required them. Clients were able to choose their own frames from an affordable selection. Prescription eye drops were also provided if needed. The instigation of the program came from the refugee community, many of whom had complained of eye sight problems.
In November 2011, Lha commenced their Dental project, which provides dental care for members of the Tibetan Refugee community who may have never had the opportunity to have a dental examination or treatment before. Refugee populations worldwide have been found to have a higher likelihood of poor oral health due to several factors, such as, but not limited to, poor diets when traditional lifestyles are disrupted, torture related injuries and the disruption of regular health care facilities.
Over the past few weeks, 30 residents from the refugee community have received a dental check up and cleaning at Delek Hospital. Many also required fillings, prescriptions tooth pastes and oral mouth washes. A few required more complicated treatments such as tooth extractions and root canals. Lha is also happy to be able to provide dental bridges for two members of the community with teeth complications that are making it difficult to eat and causing pain.
The participants for these programs were both students at Lha, as well as members of the larger McLeod Ganj community. Lha also specifically approached a handicrafts cooperative, and provided the employees with eye care.
We hope to continue the Clear Vision program and the Dental project, dependent on funding, when the residents of McLeod Ganj return from the Kalachakra initiation in January 2012. We anticipate a resurgence of interest in the programs, and appreciate any donations.