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65-year-old Mustefa Adem, cured of bilateral blindness

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What Happens When Fate Knocks on Your Door

news | Ethiopia | Jan 03, 2024

Outreach teams proactively seek out patients who may not know about upcoming outreaches to ensure those that need help receive it.

Team members of Bisidimo Hospital walk door-to-door in the small villages of eastern Hararghe in Jasro woreda looking for blind people to help. It’s part of their pre-screening process, allowing them to find people who need assistance but may be unaware of the upcoming cataract surgical outreach that is available (and free of charge).

That’s how they find 65-year-old Mustefa Adem.

For many blind people, days consist of hours of sitting, and waiting. Waiting for someone to bring them food. Waiting for someone to help them dress. Waiting on someone to stop and visit with them.

“I sit dawn to dark the whole day in front of my house door without any work, playing with my daughter’s children,” says Mustefa. This is where he is the day someone from Bisidimo Hospital stops, introduces himself, and invites Mustefa to attend an upcoming HCP outreach.

For Mustefa, bilaterally blind for the last five years, the unexpected visitor seems a miracle. He and his family have dreamed of a solution. Today, someone arrives at their door offering them one.

“I sit dawn to dark the whole day in front of my house door without any work, playing with my daughter’s children.” Mustefa Adem, a 65-year-old grandfather in eastern Hararghe

Blindness Leads to More Poverty

Blindness from cataracts is a treatable condition. Yet, in most low- and middle-income countries, it’s a solution that’s not available or too expensive for people to pursue. In these areas, as people’s eyesight begins to fade, families cobble together a solution that includes family members sacrificing outside work or school to care for the blind person.

Limited income and less opportunities can result in dire conditions, pulling the blind person and often their family into poverty.

Mustefa’s son-in-law Kasim accompanies him to the outreach. A successful surgery to restore Mustefa’s sight will affect him and his family as much as it does his father-in-law.

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“Life was really hard,” Kasim explains. “We had to help our father every day because he was unable to do anything on his own. As a result, I am unable to manage my farms effectively.” Kasim is a married father of four.

Mustefa misses his previous life of farming and longs to return. “I regret not being able to provide for my family” and contribute in a more meaningful way.

When Dr. Matt Oliva removes Mustefa’s bandages, the previously blind man immediately feels joy. And relief. He is able to see clearly again in both his eyes. “I am born again,” he exclaims. “I will start my farming and I don’t need any assistants.” His son-in-law feels an equal amount of relief, expressing his gratitude to HCP’s medical team, “I can now concentrate on my work.”

“I am born again,” Mustefa exclaimed. “I will start my farming and I don’t need any assistants.”

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