They call it the “Celebration of Sight”, otherwise known as one-day post-op appointments for our cataract patients. Adult patients are only admitted for surgery with us if they have bilateral (both eyes) cataracts and we remove one of them. They are outpatient procedures, the patients are gathered on the dock in the morning and discharged by that evening, to return to the clinic to have the bandages removed the next day.
Guinean people aren’t nearly as expressive as the previous people groups I’ve worked with in Africa. The first several men had their bandages removed and guarded their reactions carefully, expressing very little as they squinted and shifted and moved to be examined. Then, a dear little woman of probably fifty or so years was led to sit down and I could tell she was nervous and unsure. We try to explain to them the process but you know that many of them never really understand… I wonder if she had any idea what was about to happen. A glance at her admissions paperwork told me her vision before surgery was “hm” – hand motions only, unable to even tell you how many fingers you were holding up in front of her cloudy eyes. As her bandage was removed, she hesitantly lifted her eyelids and allowed the eye team member clean her face. Once he stepped away, she looked directly at me, and I smiled a reassuring smile at her. Mama, I said, You can see me. She clasped her hands in front of her mouth as though holding in all she wanted to express. The tears started flowing, her hands rose first to the heavens to thank God and then out to me to show her gratitude. I never thought I would see again, she quietly explained. Never. Oh, thank you God. My tears began flowing along with hers as I held her trembling hands in my own and smiled, no more words were necessary.
A few minutes later I found myself sitting next to my new friend, waiting for her turn to check-in with the doctor. She pointed down at my shoes (dirty, well-worn Chacos) and told me how beautiful they were. I laughed and said thank you, knowing that it’s not my shoes she is actually complimenting – she’s realized that she can see my shoes… and was so very grateful.
There were other cool things I got to do with the eye team, and maybe I’ll write about them and throw some pictures up here someday. But it was this beautiful moment I got to experience our mission statement - we really are walking in the footsteps of Jesus, bringing hope and healing to the forgotten poor.
Thank you , my supporters, for making this possible. Love to all, Krissy