|Joy at seeing with her new glasses|
|How do these reading glasses look?|
Over the next week or ten days, I’ll be adding more stories about what happened of note on the trip and several more pictures from other team members. Here is the first of these stories and it deeply moved all of us. It happened Friday afternoon, on the last day of the clinic. We always bring a budget of $1500 for each vision clinic team for the purpose of paying for cataract surgeries or other procedures at local Nairobi hospitals. The average cataract referral costs us about $50, so this means that 30 people regain the sight in at least one eye on each of our missions. We had already approved 31 cataract surgeries, one more than the budget and had also agreed to help with half payment for a pair of contact lenses for a young boy with keratoconus (a condition where the eyes are shaped like the end of an American football rather than being more spherical) if the family and community could raise the other half. I thought we were more than done with surgeries and we were already beginning to assess when we have to close the clinic in order to get packed up and have a closing devotion with the volunteers from the congregation.
God had another plan and brought us a 3 year old little girl named Blessing (shown here with her mother, me and Dr. Patrick). She had been born with cataracts on both eyes. Her young mother had been born the same way. Our doctors had seen this hereditary condition before and recommended surgery for both eyes and said the cost would be around 20,000 Kenyan shillings or approximately $250. They weren't sure if that would be for one eye or both, but that general anesthesia would be necessary. Normally, we fund one cataract surgery at a time, mostly for older people because of the chance of infection and the possibility of permanently losing sight in both eyes. In the case of a young one like Blessing, the risk of going under anesthesia twice far outweighed these other risk factors, so both eyes would need to be corrected at the same time. I asked that the doctors make some calls and firm up the cost that we were talking about and I also asked if there was any way the family and the community could come together to fund raise for half of the cost, as is our custom in cases like this. After phone consultations with their colleagues at various clinics, our doctors reported that both eyes, including anesthesia would be a little less than 40,000 KSH. After a few more calls, we learned that there was an angel donor at one of the clinics and if we could arrange for cash to be paid at the time of the procedure, he would pay about a third of it. After hearing this and a little prayer, I was moved to OK the operation and little Blessing will have the best Christmas gift of her young life, sight in both eyes! Thank you, Jesus! But wait, the story gets better. Since our return to the States, I have spoken via Skype with Catherine. There was a similar case to Blessing’s at one of our clinics in a rural area and a program to help children in desperate circumstances was found to help pay for his care. We are now hopeful that Blessing also qualifies. Looking back on it, I believe that the Lord brought this little one to our attention at the eleventh hour to teach us yet another faith lesson. He was going to care for His child all along, He just wanted to invite us along for the ride. I’m so glad that we accepted His invitation. Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’