Meet “John Doe.”
He got one of our free eye surgeries a few months ago.
Our Medical Team asked him what his name was, and he said, “John Doe.”
Laurie said, “Oh! There are many people on American television shows with that name.”
He said, “Yes, I know!”
He told our team that he only spoke English and French, and no Ewe (he tried so hard, but he really just spoke Ewe). He was very proud of his name and language ability, and we were happy to oblige. He always carried a briefcase with him everywhere he went and his big smile never left him!
After his surgery, he came back to visit our team every chance he could get, just to say thank you and give them hugs. We love John Doe!
This 18 year old boy, named Sollah, came to our team last month. Two years ago, he was asleep in a taxi when an electrical line landed on the vehicle. He awoke with his body burned and blinded by cataracts.
The local hospital was able to treat all of his burns (which we could see from his head to toes) but they did not have the ability to treat his eyes. His father heard that Sight.org was in the village of Amlame, so he brought him to our screening site.
The next day, our amazing medical team did bilateral cataract surgery and was able to restore sight to both of his eyes.
He had the sweetest smile on his face when the bandages first came off.
Then, soon, he was dancing with joy because he could see again.
Laurie had the opportunity to check Sollah’s vision two weeks ago and he now sees 20/20 in both eyes! He now can return to the city and to college. We don’t just help give sight back, we help give life back!
I am 46 years old and went blind about 9 years ago. I use to be seller of vegetables, but when I lost my sight I became jobless. My husband left me because, to him, I had also lost my value to work and lost my beauty with the fully white-covered cataracts that veiled me from seeing the world.
Our only son, who is now 35, returned home to our village to care for me. He never married because helping and providing for me became a full-time job.
Even though I lost my sight, my job and my husband, I never lost my love for Jesus. Through Him, I drew strength and in Him, even in blind darkness, I could still feel the light of His love. I still sang His praise and worshiped Him as my Lord and Savior. I couldn’t see myself smile, but could feel it on my face even during the darkest of times.
My son heard the message of the village Chief, that Sight.org was coming to our area to help restore sight to those blinded by cataracts. While my son went to work, he arranged a village neighbor to bring me to a patient screening to see if I qualified for the FREE surgery Sight.org was offering.
I could only pray as I sat and waited patiently in line. When it was my turn I heard a different voice and accent of a woman who gently touched my face. Her translator repeated what she said: “You are too young and to beautiful to be blind.”
I had not heard anyone call me beautiful in almost 10 years.
The translator then told me that with my permission, not only would they help one eye, but they could help both because I was so young. It was up to me to agree. That question was easy to answer. I could only see the hint of light, which made the simplest tasks like dressing and feeding myself impossible.
The day of my surgery, as I sat in the preparation area, there was gospel music playing in my local language. It put me at comfort to feel so much compassion from the team of Sight.org. They even prayed with me before I went into the surgical ambulance. Then during recovery they provided me a sleeping area because my village was too far to travel back to on the same day as my surgery.
I prayed all night in anticipation of seeing the sun again. When they removed the eye patches, I saw myself for the first time in ten years. I recognized the voice of Laurie, the eye team medical provider, who had called me beautiful just five days ago in a patient screening. She showed me a picture of myself with her cell phone camera.
All I could think about was the beauty that had been brought back into my life. No longer would I be a burden to my son. Not only was I free from blindness but he was free to live his own life now, marry and have children of his own. I could go back to work, feed, and clothe myself.
I thank God. I thank Sight.org. I thank the sponsor who all gave me more than sight back! They gave me life back!
Below are two videos of Guiybiebe seeing and reading for the first time in 9 years! Thank you to our sponsors for being a part of giving her sight!
They said I was old because I was blind and had to walk with a stick. So I began to feel old, confined to a bed or a chair as a prisoner of darkness lost in blindness.
My 12-year-old granddaughter became my caretaker, which kept her from going to school. I only knew it was daybreak when I would hear her begin to sweep. Then she would bathe me, dress me, and feed me. It became our morning regimen. If it was a sunny day outside, she would assist me to my chair under the shade of a tree. There I would sit for what seemed hours on end. I could hear my granddaughter washing clothes and doing all of the household chores while her parents were working on the farm and her other brothers and sisters went to school.
I am thankful that I had her to care for me, but I couldn’t help feeling the burden that was given to her without choice.
I hung my head in shame. Feelings of uselessness began to settle in me as my shoulders rounded with the burden I had become. My body began to wither and withdraw from a productive life.
Then one day, my granddaughter heard the village chief ring the announcement bell. People were coming in two days to help the blind.IMG_0010-2
My daughter took the day off from farming to bring me to an eye screening by Sight.org. I couldn’t see them, but I could feel the hope they brought that maybe I would see again. They saw me Wednesday, and I had surgery on Friday.
The following day, they took off the eye patches, and I knew instantly I wasn’t old!
They say I am of 90 years, but who really knows their age in Africa? Now that I can see, I am going to tell everyone that my spirit is of 40 years.
The first thing I did when the patches came off was stand up, raise my arms up to God, and start dancing. I saw my daughter jumping up and down clapping. Her eyes were filled with tears of joy. When it was time to leave after the post-op appointment, my daughter and granddaughter wanted to assist me in walking.
I said, “I can do it myself.” They said, “Prove it and walk by yourself,”
so I lifted my head high, threw my shoulders back, tossed away my walking stick, and led the way, with my daughter and granddaughter following me from behind.
I can take care of myself now. I am now free from blindness, and my granddaughter is free to return to school. Thank you, Sight.org, for the gift of FREE surgery that brought back so much FREEDOM to our whole family!
The mission of Sight.org is to give sight to people who have limited access to medical help in Togo, Africa. However, we do not focus only on sight. In order to focus on the entire person, we focus on three different facets – sight, ministry, and farming. Here are three exciting stories about each one of these.
Meet Jeanne and her husband. Before her surgery, she was only able to perceive light. After surgery, her vision went to 6/12 (the equivalent of 20/40 vision)! Her husband calls twice a week just to say “thank you.” He reports that she’s doing very well.
Our team says that the thing they notice the most about their patients is that even their appearance changes after their eye surgery. Do you notice how different Jeanne looks from the first picture to the second? Once she was able to see again, the light came back into her in more ways than one! Patients are almost unrecognizable after their surgeries because they have hope again, and that hope changes them on the inside and the outside. Praise Jesus that we get to do this work! You can be a big part of giving sight to people like Jeanne.
While our team is doing eye surgeries, they are also speaking truth into people’s lives. We encourage the patients before surgery when they are scared. We tell people about Jesus and his healing power. The patients know that we can only do this because our team loves Jesus. Also, at night, the team sets up a projector and screen and shows the Jesus Film to people in the village. Many people watching the Jesus Film are the very same people who have received eye surgeries that week.
Last week, our team showed the Jesus Film to 250 people in a village largely unreached by the gospel, and 65 people committed their lives to Jesus Christ!!!! 65 PEOPLE!!! This is not the only village that we will go into that is unreached. There are 280,000 people and six different people groups in Togo who have never heard about Jesus. Please continue to pray for these efforts to take the gospel into these villages!
These are our first farming students in Togo. They went through four months of training on our farm, learning better farming techniques so that they can get better nutrition, which can prevent eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, and pterygium. The ceremony of graduation was held in August 2015. We are so proud of our students!
So I have a story to tell about a man name Daniel. I do not think that was his given name at birth because he was born to a Muslim family. I think this is the Christian name he chose which is very common. I have learned that when a Muslim converts to Christianity they change their name. To me, it reminds me of the old Christian hymn that says “I have a new name written down in glory and it is mine, oh yes it is mine.”
Daniel joined the team of Sight.org in September, 2014. He is from the West African country, Liberia, where Ebola broke out March, 2014. Fortunately Daniel had already planned to leave Liberia in hopes of joining another missionary field service with Mercy Ships. The ship had announced it would come to Benin in August, 2014. So Daniel set out on his journey by faith traveling with barely enough money to eat, he crossed four countries to meet up with four other friends, who were also waiting for the floating hospital to arrive. Unfortunately due to the outbreak of Ebola to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the ship changed course. By the time Daniel had reached Benin he was penniless and stranded. He could not even return to his own country because of the great risk of Ebola contamination. Daniel became a refugee.
This was not the first time Daniel had been separated from his country. In fact it would be the third time. The first time was when he was two years old, during the first Liberian Civil War from 1989 to 1997. Daniel’s father was in the military so the rebel forces hunted him and his family, and the whole family had to flee or be executed. There was a false sense of security for a two-year period before the second Liberian Civil War broke out in 1999 and lasted until 2003. There were over 250,000 dead and one million people lost and displaced. This was the case of Daniel. His family managed to flee into Sierra Leone but Daniel became lost from his family as they ran. Daniel was only 12 years old.
After the war ended Daniel tried to return to Liberia in search of his family. As he wandered, he was drawn to a church where he heard the playing and singing of worship music. It was through the worship of music that Daniel converted from Islam to Christianity. He became a foster child of a school teacher. After a few years he was reunited with his mother.
In 2005, Daniel worked for Mercy Ships and quickly felt the call to service of his fellow man. It became his dream to become a missionary and share the Gospel of Christ through worship music.
Daniel’s journey is just beginning. In 2014, when Daniel was supposed to work with Mercy Ships again and the ship did not come, he was discouraged. One night, he had a dream that he was holding a broom. He woke up and knew that this was a vision of what he was supposed to do. In his culture, it is not common for a man to hold a broom, but that did not deter him. When I met him, I gave him some random jobs to do for the team, including sweeping the compound. Most men would be offended at being given this job, but Daniel remembered his dream, and swept happily. He may have missed the ship but he had faith. God lead him away from Liberia before Ebola broke out. Waiting in just the next country of Togo, was Sight.org, in need of volunteers just like Daniel, who would give up everything to follow Christ’s direction.
Daniel is also a great cook. He learned how to cook on Mercy Ships, which means he is really good at cooking American food but not African food, and that makes us laugh. He enjoys cooking and serving others. He is a humble servant who doesn’t mind holding a broom or a plate of food in order to move forward God’s work.
In many ways, I see similarities between our Daniel and Daniel in the Bible. They both lived in captivity and are both faithful men of God who have wisdom and understanding. He picked a good name.
Daniel has experienced the dark and now that he has experienced light, he is passionate about THE LIGHT. He is overflowing with God’s love.