International Volunteer Opportunities Details

Details for Jodhpur, India

December 1-20; January 5-30


Unite For Sight's volunteers work with Dr. Sanjiv Desai of Tarabai Eye Hospital to create a cataract-free zone in Jodhpur.

During the Fall, Winter, and Spring, volunteers work with Dr. Desai and his eye clinic staff to provide screening outreach programs and free cataract surgeries. The goal is to provide a "Cataract Free Zone.'

Unite For Sight's cataract surgery programs with Tarabai Desai Eye Hospital provide sight-restoring surgery to blind patients. Patients are screened in rural villages and brought to the eye hospital for surgery. During a 7-10 day period, approximately 2,500 patients are examined and treated free of cost. Unite For Sight funds the surgeries so that no patient remains blind due to lack of funds.

During the Summer, the volunteers work with Dr. Desai and his eye clinic staff to implement a vision screening program in schools. The goal of the program is early detection of visual impairment among the pediatric population. Volunteers assist the eye doctors in all aspects of the program, which has the following components:

1) Screening for visual acuity, color vision defects, latent squint/convergence

2) Anterior segment examination for eye diseases

3) Refraction and dispensing of eyeglasses

4) Follow-up care at Tarabai Desai Eye Hospital

5) Eye Health Education

6) Impact assessment

In addition to providing eyeglasses, children are also diagnosed and treated for conditions such as allergic conjunctivitis, traumatic cataracts, and congenital cataracts.

During July 2007, a total of 5,660 children were examined by Unite For Sight's volunteers and the eye doctors of Tarabai Desai Eye Hospital.

Volunteers have an opportunity to observe surgery in the operating theater year-round.

Volunteers lodge with an anesthesiologist from Tarabai Eye Hospital. The room rent in the home is Rs 600/day, which includes bed tea and afternoon tea. Breakfast is Rs 50/day, lunch is Rs 75/day, and dinner is Rs 75/day. All meals are vegetarian in the family home.

This program is suitable to anyone 18 years and older who has an interest in international service and health. Volunteers range from gap year students, undergraduate students, and medical students to public health students, public health professionals, nurses, opticians, optometrists, ophthalmologists, ophthalmology residents, and others. However, the school screening program each July requires that volunteers be medical students, optometry students, optometrists, ophthalmologists, or ophthalmology residents.

Optometrists provide primary eye care and refraction at schools and in rural villages. Ophthalmologist volunteers work with Dr. Desai and his colleagues to provide SICS and phaco surgery.


--Unite for Sight volunteer Dr. Jas Grewal discusses his volunteer experience in Jodhpur, India.

--CNN Feature: Yale Assistant Dean discussing student experiences in the Unite For Sight program.

--Click here to watch Unite For Sight's documentary film entitled An Eye Opener in India. This film details the accomplishments and efforts of one of Unite For Sight's programs in India, and the impact of Unite For Sight's partnerships with eye clinics.

--At Unite for Sight's Third Annual International Health Conference at Yale University in April 2006, Unite For Sight partner ophthalmologists Dr. James Clarke (Accra, Ghana), Dr. T. Senthil (Chennai, India), and Dr. Seth Wanye (Tamale, Ghana) discussed eye care needs and Unite For Sight programs in their countries. Click here to view the 20-minute session and learn more about volunteering with Unite For Sight.

--At Unite for Sight's Fourth Annual International Health Conference at Stanford University on April 14, 2007, a panel discussion was organized to discuss urgent global eye care needs. Click here to view this 1-hour panel discussion with Unite For Sight's partner Ghanaian and Indian ophthalmologists, partner eye clinic staff, and Medical Advisors.


"Volunteering in Jodhpur is the perfect experience for someone who is interested in pursuing optometry or another eye care profession. The city itself is bustling and colorful, filled with vibrant, caring, generous people.

You get a first hand view into many schools throughout the region. Most of the volunteering time is spent at schools, screening thousands of children's eyes. You pick up Hindi as you go along and the kids are particularly thrilled when they hear you attempt speaking in their language. It is really en eye-opening experience to find children with extremely poor eyesight who've never had their eyes checked before. Quite remarkable to think how one pair of glasses will change their lives! Working alongside Dr. Desai and his family at the eye hospital allowed us to witness the ways in which another health care system functions. He is a superb teacher and would always include us in all of his exams. His humor and enthusiasm were infectious. Living with a local family was particularly wonderful. The memory of being woven into the daily lives of an Indian family was one I will always cherish."--Deborah Pink, Dalhousie Medical School Student, Unite For Sight Volunteer in Jodhpur, India

"My month long trip to Jodhpur was an experience like no other. As a volunteer for Unite for Sight, I had the opportunity to screen hundreds of children for visual acuity problems, color blindness and other eye diseases. Having brought donated frames from America with me, I was able to distribute glasses to children who needed them but could not afford them. At the Tarabai Desai Eye Hospital in Jodhpur, I was also able to work with Dr. Desai and his staff. I got to witness many different surgeries and learn a great deal about medicine and health care from Dr. Desai. Working long hours in the desert heat was tough, but the rewards were well worth it. The city of Jodhpur was an awesome place to visit and see. In addition, the people of Jodhpur were very hospitable, as was my host family. Every person I met was grateful for the work the volunteers did. Volunteering in Jodhpur was a unique and rewarding experience that I will never forget!"-Alex Farhat, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, Unite For Sight Volunteer in Jodhpur, India

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