Usually The Luke Commission provides canes from Free Wheelchair Mission and Hope and Healing International one patient at a time.

However, during the latest CARES (Comprehensive and Restorative Eyecare Services) surgical session, many elderly patients requested a little help with their gait in this country where walking everywhere is the norm.

Here’s what Liswati patients had to say about their new “walking sticks”:

More than willing to show off their new canes, which we call walking sticks, are these elderly patients. Now they can walk faster with ease. TLC appreciates the partnership of Hope and Healing International and Free Wheelchair Mission.​

“Now I feel like a young girl again,” laughed an 86-year-old lady.

“I cannot remember my age,” said another. “But my homestead is far, far, and I cannot walk without a stick.”

“I’m a little wobbly in my legs,” said an 88-year-old grandma. “Sometimes my grandchildren let me lean on their shoulders, but this stick will let me get around my myself.”

Each patient is assessed as to his or her need for a cane. Here, however, many celebrate together.​

“I have had trouble walking for five years,” said a 64-year-old patient. “My right leg is painful and does not hold me up well. This walking stick will help me move. Thank you.”

“Ever since I got TB (tuberculosis) in 2012, my bones feel weak and don’t hold me up like before,” said a 61-year-old lady. “The TB is gone but so is my strength. I will lean on this walking stick.”

A 78-year-old man explained, “I could not see or walk alone for two years. Now with my new eye and my new walking stick, I can get out of my chair. This walking stick will pull me up.”

TLC staff members tell the grateful patients that the new walking sticks they used while staying at the Miracle Campus are now theirs to keep.​

For eight years, a gentleman used a walking stick he made from the branch of a tree. With that stick worn beyond usefulness, he said: “I have not seen anything for five years. Now that both my eyes have been ‘washed’ (cataract surgery) and I have a new walking stick, I see with two eyes and am walking tall. Please may my wife at home have a wheelchair? She had a stroke and could not come with me.”

Requesting contact information, TLC staff will visit the family’s homestead with a wheelchair to be assembled especially for this man’s wife.

Meanwhile, The Luke Commission thanks Free Wheelchair Mission and Hope and Healing International for supplying canes, walkers, crutches and other devices to disabled rural patients in Eswatini.

(by Janet Tuinstra)