A Beautiful Vision

Rebecca Gaal Photo Opener

When she was four years old, photographer Rebecca Gaal got her first pair of glasses. The experience changed the way she thought about sight and the world around her. Through her work with the Seva Foundation, Gaal documented doctors and patients at an eye hospital in India for her ongoing photo series “Finding Light in the Darkness.” She wants to focus on the women seeking treatment, since two-thirds of the world’s people living with visual impairment are women and girls.—Katie Daniels

I’ve been fascinated with the idea of sight, vision, and interpretation since I was a child, and photography is how I explore these issues. My experience at the Center of Community Ophthalmology at Sadguru Netra Chikitsalaya, a hospital in Chitrakoot, India, was overwhelming. It was mind-boggling to see the sheer numbers of patients and the surgeries taking place around the clock. But the hospital was really a work of art. Everyone took such pride in their work and enjoyed sharing the experience. The patients were so thankful. It was a beautiful thing to watch the relationships.

I was at the hospital during a patient outreach clinic—the doctors go to rural villages where people don’t have access to eye care or health care. The people who are screened and need further attention are then offered a bus ride to the hospital. This image was taken in the recovery ward. The patients are all allowed to stay a night or two to recuperate before being offered transportation back to their villages. Patients and family members are fed and offered clothing and other health services free of charge.

It was a bustling scene, and I loved the colors and the movement. For a crowded room, it was quite peaceful. It’s easy to focus on tragedies and negativity, but there are so many people doing so much good.

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Rebecca Gaal  is a photographer specializing in public health, conservation, and remote medicine.


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