Zambia trip: Another very successful mission
Sight restored to more than 200 Zambians during June 2000 eye camp
Thanks to the wonderful volunteer ophthalmic surgeons, nurses, and technicians who joined us in our efforts, we were able to treat more than 1,000 patients and restore vision to more than 200 Zambians residents! Our gratitude goes out to our dear volunteers. Because each of these generous people volunteered their time and skills, our June mission to Zambia was a great success! And thanks to the many donations of big-hearted people everywhere, we were able to gather and donate to the Zambian people hundreds of boxes of supplies and much-needed equipment. But that’s not all that made our trip memorable. Before we began seeing patients, we attended the ceremonious launch of the eye camp. It was a heartwarming ceremony that provided us with a lifetime of memories!
Hearts were touched during the launch ceremony
Members of the Zambian Ministry of Health and the officials in the province of Choma were on hand to welcome us during the launch of this year’s eye camp in Zambia. They gave thanks for our services in prayer and song. The charming young people of the Zambian Youth Choir overwhelmed us with their beautiful voices. First, they sang their national anthem, then a special tribute to us in English that repeated the words, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.” It was a gesture that truly touched our hearts. During the ceremony, Dr. Sims made our donations of supplies and equipment official. After a brief message to the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health and the people of Zambia, he handed the items over to the smiling and grateful Ministry of Health official. Afterward, there was more singing, heartfelt welcoming speeches, and prayer presented in Zambian and English. Then it was time to start seeing patients. Part of Dr. Sims’s goal during his Zambian visit was to help children who needed operations to mend crossed eyes and similar problems.
The eye clinic got underway.
The Zambian eye camp ran for five days – from June 12 through 16 – in Kabwe, a town in northwest Zambia. Patients lined the walls of the clinic as they patiently waited for care. Assisted by local physicians and health care workers, we worked from sunup ’til sundown evaluating conditions, performing hundreds of cutting-edge cataract surgeries, and providing much-needed care to our Zambian patients. We also spent time training local eyecare professionals in the use of the new equipment we had donated to the clinic. They learned quickly, and we know they’ll be putting their new skills to great use for years to come! Everything ran like clockwork. The only hitch was that some of our equipment didn’t arrive until halfway through the camp. Even so, we moved forward as planned. Our only regret is that we weren’t able to restore sight to more people. We’re sure to do it next time! In conjunction with free eye care services, we hosted a much-needed Cataract Prevention Campaign, handing out more than 1,000 pairs of sunglasses, hats, and visors to local residents, and enough multivitamins to provide a 30-day supply to each patient we treated during this year’s eye camp. It is the lack of these most basic of tools to protect against the sun’s harmful rays that contributes to the high incidence of early cataracts and blindness in Zambia. It is our hope that such campaigns will help spread the word about the importance of wearing sunglasses and hats with brims, and the significance of taking multivitamins. We plan more such campaigns for the future.
Why do we do what we do?
Of the estimated 1.7 million residents of Zambia, more than 16,000 are blind. Of these, more than 80% of blindness is due to cataracts. That means about one in every 100 Zambians suffers some form of partial or full blindness! These numbers are extremely high, especially when compared to those of the U.S.,where it’s estimated that of 275 million Americans, only about 1.6 million are legally blind. A major contributing factor to this statistical gap is that residents of the United States can readily find adequate eye care around almost every corner. In Zambia, a total of only five ophthalmologists serve the entire country! Plus, there’s only one fully equipped eye care facility, and that’s in the capitol of Windhoek, which is a mighty long walk for many underprivileged Zambians. We set out to change this picture. Our goal is to prevent and reverse blindness in Zambia and other developing countries and to increase the opportunity for the underprivileged everywhere to receive advanced eye care. Since our group’s inception in 1998, we’ve experienced tremendous growth and success. But we couldn’t have done it without you! With your continued help, our plan to raise awareness in Zambia and the world about the need for better eye care through our eye camps is sure to be achieved.
Eye Surgery Missions & Cataract Prevention
Global Eye Care sponsors a number of special events around the world to help disadvantaged people who are needlessly blind from treatable causes. Volunteer eye surgeons, and ophthalmic nurses, and technicians are needed to teach and perform surgeries at these events.
Spreading the word of blindness prevention globally
The success of Global Eye Care camps in Africa over the past three years motivated us to expand our goals and programs to include other developing countries. Trips to Asia (India and China), Central and South America (El Salvador and Peru), and Mexico are in the works. The first of these international missions is scheduled for February, 2001, when our expedition will lead us to Peru. We’ll also conduct seminars in the U.S.A. to raise awareness that blindness is preventable. Educational programs directed at minorities and the disadvantaged who are at higher risk than the general population for developing glaucoma and sight-stealing diabetes as a result of their circumstances are currently in the planning stages.