February 19, 2014 by TOMS

Name: Yangchen
Age: 49
Location:  Tsona, Tibet
Giving Partner: Seva Tibet
Service Provided: Cataract Surgery

For her entire life, Yangchen had always looked after herself. Unlike many other Tibetans, she didn’t have any family of her own, so she prided herself on being independent.  With 12 acres of barley field and 13 sheep to tend to, she was a very self-sufficient woman. Over time, however, he vision began blurring. Then one day, five years ago she became blind and was unable to care for her home and her land. Unaware that there was eye care to help, her vision quickly worsened and she became blind in both eyes. With no one to help care for her, Yangchen was devastated.

“I lost the ability of having a life on my own, so I was sent to a nursing home. My barley field, my sheep and my home all were without any care,” she shared.

While in the nursing home, Yangchen became close with a man named Pema. At 70 years old, Pema had been through his share of life experiences, but becoming Yangchen’s caretaker was a whole new one that brought feelings of adoration and respect.

Eventually they fell in love with one another and Pema decided he could better care for Yangchen in the comfort of her own home. So he packed up their belongings, moved to her countryside home, and for almost three years Pema cooked for her, cultivated the land and tended to the sheep. Yangchen was extremely grateful for Pema’s care, but always wished there was some way she could contribute to their life together.

One day, the village leader told Pema about an eye camp that TOMS Sight Giving Partner Seva Tibet was holding in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital. Once Pema heard of the eye care services available, he drove Yangchen 250 kilometers to Lhasa. It was here that the doctors performed a full eye examination and determined she would need cataract surgery in both eyes. After a successful TOMS-supported cataract surgery, the bandages were removed from Yangchen’s eyes. She began crying tears of happiness – she could see!

“I saw my partner for the first time, even though we were living together for three years. All these years he gave me so much care, and now it’s my turn to care for him.”

With her sight restored Yangchen is excited to contribute to she and Pema’s new life together. Now they can share the responsibilities of looking after their home and cooking meals together.