Eyesight has been restored to three individuals who have been blind for several years. Dr. Will Mapham, an ophthalmologist who has been friends of the community for years, conducted his third eye clinic this April as part of his ROOTS: Rural Ophthalmology Outreach Training Scheme. Once again the Bulungula Incubator received generous help from the Bulungula Lodge, Lungile Backpackers, and the Baz Bus.
Nomzingisi of the BI organized three eye screening clinics in the villages of Nqileni, Tshezi, and Mazizini. It was a full day of work with Nomzingisi, Sam and Dr. Will working well into the night. In total, 57 patients were examined by Dr. Will and dozens more screened for reading glasses by optometrist Woody Hopper and his wife Robin who helped us out while taking a break from their work with Mercy Ships (an international charity organization providing free health care). Three villagers were selected as prime candidates for cataract surgery and a few days later were on the road with Nomzingisi as their escort. With a free ride to Mthatha from the Bulungula Lodge shuttle and the Bulungula Incubator raising funds for bus tickets to Port Elizabeth, the group was soon on their way to Uitenhage Hospital outside Port Elizabeth. Once again Lungile Backpackers displayed their awesomeness by generously provided free accommodations for Nomzingisi and the patients.
The surgery, while extremely complex and delicate, took only 10 minutes per eye thanks to the skillful hands of Dr. Mark Jacoby and the Uitenhage theatre staff. Before long the three patients were back at Lungile Backpackers recovering from their surgery under the care of Nomzingisi. All three surgeries were a complete success and all three patients were now able to see after years of being blind. While just the day before the patients needed help with simple acts like getting into a car, now they are able to tie their own shoes, walk up and down stairs, and recognize faces. You can see for yourself one of the patient’s reactions when her bandage is removed and she sees for the first time in seven years: Rural Villager Can See
After providing transport for the last two eye campaigns, Baz Bus continues their support and gave free rides back to Mthatha for the patients, Nomzingisi, and Sam. A few days after their return to Xhora Mouth, Nomzingisi and Sam visited the patients for a follow-up check. The patients excitedly listed off all the things they could now see, finally summarizing proudly: “I see everything!” One of the patients, Notaka, had been blind since 2007 and explained how his life has improved: Instead of drinking his coffee from a jug so as not to spill, he now drinks from a cup. For meals, instead of eating from a plate with different foods mixed together, he now enjoys choosing from different sides and salads. While walking around his yard he started crying “tears of joy” at seeing all the new fenced-in huts along with the assets his family had gained since he lost sight.
Dr. Will and the Bulungula Incubator are eager to continue giving sight back to the Xhora Mouth Community. In collaboration with Dr. Mark Jacoby at Uitenhage Hospital, Dr. Will and the Health Team at Bulungula Incubator are anticipating another batch of patients ready for surgery as early as June. With persistent support and generous contributions from the Bulungula Lodge, Lungile Backpackers, and Baz Bus, we are confident these amazing achievements will continue making lives better for the people of Xhora Mouth.
Thank you to everyone that made this possible!
* Dr. Mark Jacoby, Dr. William Mapham and Uitenhage Hospital
* Woody and Robin Hopper of Mercy Ships
* The Bulungula Incubator with special thanks to Nomzingisi Hopisi and Samuel Partington
* The Bulungula Lodge
* Baz Bus