He is 55 years old. He worked as a road builder, but when he developed a cataract in his right eye 3 years ago, he was no longer able to drive a car.
He knew that he was about to get fired from his job because of his visual impairment and was desperate for help. He came to SIght.org’s mobile eye clinic and can now see.
He wants to say thank you to all the supporters of Sight.org who made his eye surgery possible. He is now able to go back to work and support his family.
You can give sight to someone like Koassi for $12.50 a month or a one time donation of $150. Donate at https://sight.org/donate/
My name is Kornye.
I am a farmer.
I am a dad.
I have a nine-year-old daughter named Angelé.
One day, I noticed that one of Angelé’s eyes was turning inwards. Her friends started teasing her because she was cross-eyed. She started having difficulty reading or focusing. Then I started seeing little white clouds in both of her eyes. They seemed to get bigger every time I looked at her. Eventually, Angelé was not able to go to school because she couldn’t even see her own hand in front of her face. She couldn’t even walk by herself anymore.
My heart broke for my daughter but I had no one to help her. I asked the doctor in my village for help but he couldn’t do anything for her. My friends told me that there was an eye doctor in the capital, but I didn’t have enough money to get there. I have never left my village.
Last month, a strange looking vehicle drove into our village. Some people got out of that vehicle and started examining the eyes of everyone in our village. They called themselves Sight.org.
Suddenly, my heart jumped. Could these people help my Angele? I ran and grabbed my daughter. As we waited in line, I had hope for the first time in years. A man from Sight.org looked at her eyes and declared that they could help her.
The day of her surgery, Angelé was frightened. She didn’t want to go in that strange looking vehicle. She cried, but she was brave, for me. I was nervous too, but I kept a brave face for my daughter. I watched her step into the vehicle and I wondered what they would do to her.
When she came out, she had bandages on both eyes and had to be led to a chair. It was hard to see my daughter this way. The next day, they took off the bandages. The people asked her to open her eyes, but she refused. She was too scared. She didn’t open her eyes for many hours.
My heart sunk. Was she in pain? Did the surgery work?
She finally opened her eyes, but she couldn’t see anything.
The Sight.org people came back a week later to check her eyes again. She opened her eyes for them this time, but they did not see any change. She still couldn’t see the doctor’s hands in front of her face. I looked at the doctor’s face. When I saw his face, I lost hope. He didn’t think she would be able to see again. I wondered if my daughter would ever see again.
Then, a miracle happened. One day, she could see her hands. Then she could see her feet. Each day, she could see a little more.
A month later, when Sight.org came back to check her eyes again, she was walking all by herself with a big smile on her face. She could count all of their fingers. Everyone started jumping and cheering for her. They all started praising Jesus. I will never forget that day.
Angelé is now back in school. She can play with her friends again. She can run into my arms again. I am so thankful for the gift that Sight.org has brought to my Angelé.
Our lives have been changed because someone cared enough to bring that strange looking vehicle to our village.
“Yovo yovo, bonsior, ça va bien, merci!” The little Togolese children would chant their greeting as they waved at me as I entered their village. They were all too delighted to alert their friends and family to the rarity of seeing a pale-faced foreigner such as myself in their land. “Bonjour, Ma Ma!” they would say. “Bonjour!” I would reply and wave to the children and adults alike who would crowd around to see the “Yovo” or “foreigner” who had come to their village. Soon enough, the children would crowd around me, begging me to listen to their heart with my stethoscope, or waiting for the chance to stroke my pale skin.
In August, I had the opportunity to serve with Sight.org in Togo, Africa, as a nurse. Sight.org is a ministry based out of Tyler, Texas, that performs cataract as well as pterygium surgeries for the people of Togo. Over 80,000 people in Togo, young and old alike, suffer from blindness that cataracts or pterygium cause due to sun exposure. In a country where over half the population lives on $1.25 a day and running water and air conditioning are fantasies that most only hear about, the idea of receiving a life-changing surgery to correct their blindness, free of cost, is unbelievable. What could possibly provide a clean and sterile environment for performing these surgeries? An ambulance donated by East Texas Medical Center.
Seeing the familiar green ambulance parked on the outskirts of a small town in Togo gave me so much pride to work for a hospital such as ETMC. Over the course of three days, I was overwhelmed to help guide 60+ blind patients enter and exit the ambulance to receive their sight again. A Togolese eye surgeon, Dr. Nestor Avia, welcomed me in to the ambulance to observe eye surgeries my second day in Togo. It was not uncommon for Dr. Avia to kneel down beside the stretcher of a patient in order to calm their fears of the surgery looming before them. Tenderly, Dr. Avia would perform the surgery while reassuring the patients, in their own language, that all was going well.
While helping in pre-op, I got to meet and talk to the patients via a translator. I met Yawa, a 70-year old-woman who said she could not remember how many years it had been since she had last had full sight. All of her family members in her village had died due to sickness. She had lived on her own for six years. Komlan was a 65-year-old man who was looking forward to farming again. He could barely see and walked around with a cane. He said that “farming will be much easier” after the surgery. Masalou had not been able to see for the past seventeen years. The 69-year-old lady told me that she was not afraid of her upcoming surgery. She was ready to be able to cook, bathe, and eat on her own so her family did not have to help her. Not all the patients were elderly, however. Enyonam was a 35-year-old woman suffering from pterygium. She explained to me how painful it was to endure the discomfort in her eyes during her daily tasks. She said she felt shameful because she did not feel beautiful when people looked at her.
After surgery, the patients wore patches over their eyes until the next day when they returned to have them removed. The patients eagerly waited hours before the appointed post-op time. Upon removal of the eye-patches, patients would blink their eyes in disbelief at having their sight again. I would see many smile for the first time since I had met them. Others wept. One patient exclaimed, “I see a Yovo!” upon seeing me standing before her. Another woman kept whispering, “Merci, Jesus. Merci,” as tears rolled down her face. One man who was a teacher said, “I don’t have to lose my job now!” Often times the patients would dance or throw their cane into bushes to celebrate the gift of sight that they had been given.
When not helping with surgeries, I was able to travel to villages with the Sight.org team and meet all the medical needs that we could. Often times, the villages would be so remote that the only “road” to get there would be a trail not even a foot wide.
It was not uncommon for there to be no well for the villagers to drink clean water from. Once a village heard that a nurse was coming to their village, it was certain that I could expect a crowd upon arrival. Many children and adults had malaria and dysentery. Other villagers would present their infected wounds to me to clean and bandage. One woman came to me with a soiled cloth around her foot. Upon removal, she explained to me that she had burned her whole foot about a month ago when hot oil spilled on it. At one particular village, the villagers informed me that soap was too expensive for them to afford. One child about nine years old crawled around on swollen knees due to one of her legs being deformed since she was two years old. After traveling to a bigger city in Togo, I was able to return to the same village with a $22 pair of crutches for the little girl named Canditt. I taught Canditt how to walk again with crutches.
In a country like Togo, it is incredible to see how so little can help so much, like soap, $22 dollars, and a donated ambulance. The health needs of the Togolese people are astounding. It was a privilege to use the skills that ETMC has cultivated and taught me as a nurse to help others in such an impoverished country. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to serve with this amazing ministry.
I am writing you this letter while on the mission field in Togo, Africa.
When I arrived on August 10th, I traveled directly to our team. They were already prepared and ready to perform cataract surgeries the following day. As the surgeries began, I found myself as a spectator observing a well oiled machine. Everyone on the team had become masters of their individual positions, and they performed 62 surgeries in three days.
We have a beautiful video of a daughter watching her father as he reads the eye chart. Our missionaries said she was WEEPING with JOY, praising God that her father could see again!
I am so impressed with this team. Even though they serve the blind throughout the year, they serve with as much compassion as they had when they first began.
After surgery, the team danced and rejoiced with the patients who had their sight restored. Then they wept as people praised God and shared their testimonies of freedom and restoration. You can seen a video of this rejoicing during our “Celebration of Sight.”
Today, we did eye screenings and were able to schedule 54 surgeries for next month. God continues to bring a constant flow of needs to us and we plan to serve until they stop coming.
As I am writing this, I’m watching our team and our volunteer nurse, Rachel, serve the people in the community around our headquarters. Rachel is offering consultation to villagers who have never seen a doctor, while performing minor treatments as we are able.
We are even finding cases that we believe is likely syphilis. This is a terrible disease, but with modern medicine, it is easily treatable. We sometimes find families that have passed this disease down three generations, and sadly, they don’t even know they have it. We will be taking the patients we are seeing today to a Catholic hospital tomorrow for syphilis testing and treatment.
Next week, we will be going out for a ministry outreach in the same villages where we performed eye surgeries a week ago. While performing ministry activities, we will also perform minor medical treatments and consultation like we are today.
I have to say, eye surgeries are much easier for me to handle than the type of health care we are offering today. For our eye surgery program, we are either able to perform the surgeries or not. But when offering to help in other areas, it’s not always so easy.
Just moments ago, I had to pause while writing this letter to join the team to pray for a lady with advanced cancer. I wish there was a program here that we could refer her to, but we know that it doesn’t exist here. At times, we are able to cure a disease like syphilis, and at other times, we can only offer our love and prayer.
Regardless of what we are able to offer, we are very grateful to God and our supporters who enable us to stand before these people today. It is extremely sobering when we are confronted by such need. It makes us feel very small in a big world of suffering.
We are so grateful for our supporters. What you do is very important.
Extending Christ’s healing hand,