Turning Blindness into Sight in the remote Highlands of Papua New Guinea

28 April 2020
Guest Author

Turning Blindness into Sight in the remote Highlands of Papua New Guinea

by | Apr 28, 2020

…I have come into this world, so that the blind will see…

– Jesus, John 9:39

Imagine being blind and isolated, unable to be with your loved ones, and having to fend for yourself during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Eyesight is something we often take for granted. Yet there are many people in the remote Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG) who are needlessly blind.

With a Covid-19 lockdown in PNG, many people with disabilities cannot access the services they need and others risk having their life-changing surgeries delayed or cancelled.

But there is good news. Because most of cbm New Zealand’s projects are medical, they are essential services and can go ahead. cbm will adapt their work to help with the prevention of the spread of Covid-19 and to offer care and treatment.

Having access to vital sight-saving surgery is an incredible blessing. Many people in PNG have never seen a doctor before. Approximately 86% of the population live in rural areas, however, most health services and specialists’ practices are located in larger towns, this results in many people being deeply affected by avoidable blindness. In fact, 1-in-15 men and 1-in-10 women in the remote Highlands struggle with blindness.

Blindness is often met with suspicion, as those who are blind are usually stigmatised and become victims of human rights abuse. Isolation is commonplace. But thankfully, there is hope…

cbm New Zealand is an international Christian development organisation who have been working in PNG for the past forty years, delivering sight-saving cataract surgeries and other services. The aim is to reduce avoidable blindness, and build an inclusive world in which all people with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential.

One person, whose life was completely transformed by attending a cbm funded outreach clinic, was Jack. Blindness had crushed Jack’s spirit. This was devastating for him as everything he did – to stay safe, earn a living and support his family – all depended on his sense of sight. He was unable to leave the house without being led. He lost all desire to be with other people. In his village, no-one knew how to encourage him and his family stopped being able to talk to him. Jack became depressed, angry, isolated and withdrawn. He lost hope of ever being a productive member of his family and his village.

Through the generosity of others, it was possible for Jack to undergo an operation for his sight to be restored at a cbm funded surgical outreach clinic. When Jack arrived at the outreach clinic, he was very concerned the surgery would not work, but he did not need to be. The surgery was a success and after the bandages were removed, his sight was restored. Relief and joy flooded his face. From that moment, Jack was a completely different man. He said he felt he had “been away” since losing his sight.

But thanks to receiving sight-saving surgery he could again live his life to the full – just as God intended!

One person, whose life was completely transformed by attending a cbm funded outreach clinic, was Jack. Blindness had crushed Jack’s spirit. This was devastating for him as everything he did – to stay safe, earn a living and support his family – all depended on his sense of sight. He was unable to leave the house without being led. He lost all desire to be with other people. In his village, no-one knew how to encourage him and his family stopped being able to talk to him. Jack became depressed, angry, isolated and withdrawn. He lost hope of ever being a productive member of his family and his village.

Jack before surgery
Jack’s gratitude after receiving life- changing cataract surgery

Through the generosity of others, it was possible for Jack to undergo an operation for his sight to be restored at a cbm funded surgical outreach clinic. When Jack arrived at the outreach clinic, he was very concerned the surgery would not work, but he did not need to be. The surgery was a success and after the bandages were removed, his sight was restored. Relief and joy flooded his face. From that moment, Jack was a completely different man. He said he felt he had “been away” since losing his sight.

But thanks to receiving sight-saving surgery he could again live his life to the full – just as God intended!

cbm New Zealand is continuing to transform the lives of many others like Jack. While Covid-19 has changed so much, cbm is grateful for the generous gifts from its supporters to be able to continue this vital work.

If you would like to learn more about how you can help build an inclusive world in which all people with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential, please visit www.cbmnz.org.nz

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