When you can see, the world is big and bright. When you can’t see well, the world shrinks. Feeling unnoticed and incapable, you dwell in greyness or darkness.
That’s before you meet The Luke Commission and their CARES team (Compassionate and Restorative Eyecare Services).
Afterward, after treatments, after cataract and pterygium surgeries, after eyeglasses, after hospitality and a visit to the Miracle Campus, after patch removals…it’s different. Read patients’ exact words below:
|The night before surgeries start, the patients enjoy a gathering for encouragement led by Pastor Zakes, a beloved supporter of The Luke Commission.
“I haven’t seen for 10 years. I do not know where to look first.”
“I have seen heaven today. The Luke Commission came here just to take care of my eyes.”
“I was totally blind in my left eye,” says a young woman. “I can see what I haven’t seen in a long time.”
One elderly woman turned and looked at her “neighbor” sitting next to her. “Have you been there all this time?” she laughs.
“I can see behind me, too.”
“I can see my own hand.”
As their new eyes adjust to the Swaziland sunlight, patients start smiling to themselves, smiles of surprise and quiet jubilation. Others dance and sing, noisy with bubbling joy.
“I can see now. I couldn’t see when I came here. Someone always had to lead me,” a lady says, with her hand over her heart.
Declares a man with his fist held high, “I haven’t been able to see out of this eye since 1963. Today I can.”
“God has heard our prayers, and this is not witchcraft.”
“I ran away last November. TLC called me back in May. I came and had the ‘wash.’ Now I see. The Luke Commission did not give up on me.”
“I had no money. I could not see. Who would help, I wondered. You did!”
“School children were robbing me. I will forgive them, but now I will watch them,” explains a 57-year-old widow who sells sweets and chips at schools.
|Even young eyes receive compassionate attention from TLC staff.
With tears running down his face, a 14-year-old boy tries to hide his emotions. He lives three hours away with his grandmother and two “aunties” and came to the Miracle Campus alone. “They will be happy my eye is ok now.”
“They came here to help the orphans. Now they are helping us too,” states an elderly man who received double cataract surgeries.
“I was afraid they would take off my eye. But there wasn’t even any pain,” an elderly lady says. “I pray now that all those who helped us and are unmarried will find good mates. They deserve them.”
Two ladies start talking now that they could see. Before, they sat in silence not relating to each other.
“The Luke Commission staff took care of the old gogos (grandmothers). It’s the first time I’ve seen this.”
“I’ve never seen such a ‘hospital.’”
“Even the drivers of the buses were kind and spoke gently.”
“I will keep what I have found here in my heart.”
|The TLC Dietary team prepares and serves over 300 meals a day during eye care week.
“Now I can read the Bible. I was using only one eye, and it gave me headaches.”
One elderly man admits, “I was scared. Now I’m okay, too okay.”
“They came to Swaziland because they said yes to the Lord,” reasons a young man. “We needed help.”
“Now I can help my family by threading and sewing. I did not like sitting and doing nothing for anyone.”
“I used to try to plant in the dirt, but I saw two lines instead of one. I didn’t know where to put the seeds. Now I will know.”
“I couldn’t drive at night,” remembers a 46-year-old businessman. “I couldn’t attend meetings. Now I can work again.”
A young 25-year-old patient with a baby on her back helped a 73-year-old gogo who had both eyes covered after double cataract surgery. Gogo came to two rural TLC outreaches before she had her eyes checked. “I was afraid.” A widow since 1980, she raised her four children by “ploughing for other people.” She says, “I did not want to get on the bus, but my daughter told me to go. I have been treated well. Now I can see again!”
“My neighbors will say, ‘That lady was blind. How can she see now?’”
Life continues brighter and bigger for 170 Swazis. Another CARES eye session is ended…and begun.
(by Janet Tuinstra celebrating with the whole TLC team)
Please take a moment to watch our Specialized Care and Surgical Centre video