Ghanaian Farmer Regains Sight and Livelihood
For patients at an HCP Cureblindness outreach, their story starts with “he or she was blind” and ends with a yet-written script of endless hope on what’s next for them.
In August, 2023, HCP Cureblindness supported a week-long series of eye care trainings and surgeries in and around Accra, Ghana to help build local capacity and provide the highest quality patient care to those in need. A team from HCP, including HCP co-founder, Dr. Geoff Tabin, collaborated with Ghanaian doctors and medical personnel at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra and Watborg Eye Services in Obutu to deliver nearly 400 sight-restoring surgeries.
As with all surgical outreaches, the medical staff and doctors are laser-focused on their goal. The organized flow is built on efficiency: moving patients from triage to surgery to recovery. The energy of HCP’s mission fuels medical staff and doctors on long outreach days to ensure each patient receives the same high level of attention and care. The patients fill the hallways, waiting for their ten minutes in the operating room that will change their lives immeasurably.
Each patient has his or her own story, his or her own struggles, his or her own wishes and dreams. While the main plot line in their respective stories remains the same, the details make each one so personal and unlike any others.
Stories like that of Robert, a 65-year old man from central Ghana who has been blind in both eyes for nearly 30 years due to advanced cataracts.
“If I remember correctly, I was 25 years old when I became a fisherman. We would spend weeks and several months at sea with our canoes to catch fish. Upon returning to land, we are met by fervid fishmongers with their empty woven baskets and pans waiting impatiently to buy out the day's catch. During this time, I had relocated from Bawjiase, my hometown, to Elmina, both in the Central region of Ghana,” he says.
“A couple of months into the job, I started developing eye problems. Whenever we returned from sea, I observed that it became increasingly challenging to maneuver my way without bumping into people. It was a very unpleasant situation, but I couldn't imagine my sight failing then. To save myself from embarrassment, I would walk along the beach to work, avoiding people walking by the roads.”
Unable to continue his job as a fisherman, Robert has lived under the care of his only brother for many years. When his brother recently passed away, he was left all alone. A free eye screening led by HCP partner Watborg Eye Clinic diagnosed Robert’s cataracts, and shortly after he was brought to the clinic for a free surgery to remove both of his cataracts - fully restoring his sight.
After his surgery, Robert shared “I am thankful for a smooth surgery and am confident that my sight will continue to improve as I heal. Before this surgery, I could barely see. With my walking stick, I navigated my way by groping my environment for obstacles. I have a cassava farm and I am eager to return home to oversee work on it. Through this, I can work again and be self-sufficient.”
What’s next for Robert? He talks about marriage. He looks forward to farming. He now imagines a future and is optimistic about the possibilities that sight will afford him.