It’s another Luke Commission surgical eye week in Eswatini. Another bunch of miracles. Another round of applauses. With words of wonder. With songs of gratitude.
We share these reactions when the bandages were removed, when the scales fell off, when the blind could see once again. All are true.
(TLC thanks Dr. Alex Cohen from Iowa City, Iowa, USA, for coming to operate, analyze, and consult for the 4th year. TLC thanks the medical team and all the staff members who cared for patients, picked up and delivered patients to their homesteads, and coordinated logistics and supplies for the latest hundred cataract and other eye surgeries. Plus a cornea transplant.)
Meanwhile, let’s listen and be enlightened ourselves…
“I can see the doors and the floors and the ceiling on top. It’s been a long time,” laughed a grandpa.
From a man who had cataracts removed from both eyes: “I can see again! The staff has been so kind to me, leading me around in my darkness. It is light today.”
“A thousand mouths cannot express how thankful I am. I wanted to kill myself because I could not see. Now I see God made me wait, knowing TLC would help me,” said another man.
“This is my first time at The Luke Commission,” whispered an elderly lady. “I was called on the phone. Surprised anyone here knew me. You picked me up Sunday, saying come see what’s next. Now I see.”
“Thank you for respecting me. Even with electricity, I could not see,” noted a mother holding her child.
“The eye program brings out the tops and the bottoms of emotions,” said Echo, executive director, with emotion in her voice, also.
A strong-looking elderly man, who stood a little taller than he had the day before: “So many years I lost sight in my left eye. Even my right eye was starting not to see. Now I can see out of both.”
Another man announced: “This is just for free! Generations to come will see because of TLC.”
Suddenly a lady interrupted a man who was speaking. She jumped from her chair as her bandage was removed, unable to contain her delight. She had no words, just shouts. Just joy unspeakable.
Continued the man, with a big smile of this understanding: “We die while we are alive, if we don’t see. We are like dead persons. Now I am alive.”
Young mother: “I had nothing when I came. I waited. I was asking God to let me see my new baby. Now I can. Next time I will come to help those who are waiting.”
“How is it I do not have to be directed by anyone now?” laughed a lady.
“I could not see the vehicle I came in,” said a man.
“I just wanted to see. Now I do,” declared a young man.
From a grandmother who was raising her grandson: “I am telling you—he can see now.”
“My life is so difficult, but now I can see,” a man stated simply.
From another man: “Thank you for the young people working here. This makes me proud of my little brothers and sisters.”
“I was told there is life here. I didn’t believe. Now I believe. I have been given food, money, and they lead me where I should go,” remembered a happy woman.
“I could not see anything when I came. Now I will take a kombi home on my own, and not be led by anyone,” exclaimed a grandmother.
“I live far away, but they came for me without money,” a woman recalled.
“No other hospital ever phoned me about my eyes,” a gentleman said.
“I’m going to climb a tree and tell everyone who cannot see to go to The Luke Commission,” waved an elderly woman.
“My children were afraid and told me I should not come. I did anyway. Now I can see far. Before one person looked like four people,” said a lady of years but with a smile of youth.
Explaining the outcomes of three little boys who had congenital cataracts on both their, Dr. Cohen said quietly: “The boys should be fine as their brains adjust. They can see now. They may need glasses to help for a while.”
“I was worried my boy could not go to school if her could not see,” said the mother of one of these boys. “It has been since he was two years that he saw.”
From a man who only had one eye: “Thank you for taking care of my life. I can see a little out of my one eye again. I just wanted to be able to go to the toilet by myself.”
A young woman glowed: “I had a lump growing inside my eye. Now with it gone, and I can see out of that eye again.”
“My eyes have been closed since 2017. I could not pay for operations. Now that I am not afraid, I will come back to get the other one done next time,” explained a lady.
“All this is the power of God,” shouted a man, twirling around as he pointed at everything he could now see.
A double-cataract woman: “I could not see any people around me. In my garden I would cut down everything I planted. Now I can take care of my garden again.”
“The work you have done to take care of us,” explained a woman. “Even when we were angry or tired of waiting, you ‘polished’ us, telling us not to be afraid and to be calm.”
With a hand over her heart, a grandmother smiled: “I have never seen so many young people working together. Even when we lost something because we had patches on our eyes, they helped us find our clothes and belongings.”
“I lost my sight in 2008,” stated an elderly man. “I prayed day and night to get my sight back.”
The testimonies will continue as eyes heal, and the lives of these dear ones and many more are enlightened with the light of sight.
The Luke Commission team gives all the glory to God. We can hardly grasp the reality that He lets us see, yes see, Him working with such compassion.
(by Janet Tuinstra)
PS: Stay tuned for another upcoming surgical eye session.