The government through the Ministry of Health (MOH) in collaboration with New Sight Eye Center (NSEC) has conducted free rural cataracts surgeries for 105 people in Nimba County.
The rural cataracts surgical outreach event was recently held at the Jackson F. Doe Regional Referral Hospital in Tappita, Nimba County.
The Project is the first of four outreaches in rural Liberia, and it is fully funded by Samaritan’s Purse while the New Sight Eye Center is serving as implementing partner.
During the outreach, a surgical team comprising four Liberian Surgeons headed by Liberia’s National Eye Health Program Manager, Dr. Joseph L. Kerkula of the Ministry of Health, was dispatched from Monrovia in early March for the twelve-day project.
However, the arrival of the team in Tappita at the Jackson F. Doe Regional Referral Hospital coincided with the visitation and meeting with Dr. Benjamin Harris, President of the Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Grant Manager of Lions Club Foundation.
During the brief meeting, Dr. Kerkula used the occasion to thank both Samaritan Purse and the New Sight Eye Canter for their tremendous supports to Liberia’s Health sector, noting that the project will serve as a monument for the citizens in the region.
At the same time, Dr. John Tamba, Acting Executive Chief Officer (CEO) at the Jackson F. Doe Regional Referral Hospital, lauded the efforts of SP and NSEC for the preferment of the Jackson F. Doe Regional Referral Hospital in Tappita.
Dr. Joseph stated that the move will serve as luminary scars on the minds and faces of the entire Nimba County.
The meeting was however considered as an iconic and celebrated beginning of Eye-surgery in the region, was attended by New Sight Eye Canter’s program Manager Madam N’Chung M. Eben and Madam Yassa Darwolo among others from the Samaritan’s Purse.
A 63-year old man, Henry Wongbeh, narrated that he got visually impair as the result of working extensively on his Cocoa farm in Yorpea, Nimba County, during mid-2016. According to Mr. Wongbeh, his visual impairment worsened over the following weeks.
He believed that he was made blind by some witchcraft in the area because of his Cocoa plantation. Mr. Wongbeh, a father of 8, and a grandfather of 6, noted that after the unfortunate incident, he began to use traditional medicines in order to curb the situation.
He said due to his condition he abandoned all farming activities and began to sit home all alone in his village for five years.
He pointed out that, as a result of his condition, people started to steal his Cocoa, and his anxiousness to continue serving God prompted him to go for the surgery after he heard about the surgical outreach on air. “Getting my eyeball back, my son, is the wonders of God,” Mr. Wongbeh said.
He praised the project team and rained blessings on them for the sacrifices made by extending the outreach service to Nimba.
Bill Gbormia, 25, said “Cataracts is not prominent among young people meanly in their 20s. But Bill Gbormia’s case is extraordinarily mind-boggling.”
He told a team of reporters that the week in which he lost both his parents in a tragic motor accident, turned out to be the same week he lost his sight in both eyes to particles of cement bags he was lifting in late 2015.
According to him, during the time of his illness, his 19 siblings neglected and treated him as an outcast, except for his senior brother he currently stays with.
Gbormia narrated that the painful condition and being treated as an outcast by his siblings pushed him several times to attempt committing suicide.
However, Bill acknowledged that taking away his life would not have been the best solution to his problem. “Each time I attempt to do so, God would intervene by speaking to me to stop.”
Gbormia’s facial appearance shows that he was actually living in total captivity and neglect. He further described the coming of the surgical team to Nimba as a long-awaited miracle, for which he fasted, and prayed.
Interestingly, Bill uses his inability to identified colors, light, walk in and out of bed, even the food he eats, among others as things he really wishes he had eyes to see. “I never used to see anything in the town (the village), people used to laugh at me. I was looking like fun box; the main thing that used to make me cry was no woman wanted me,” he explained in Liberian colloqua, beaming with a smile as he walked the corridor of the hospital.
Gbormia asserted further that regaining sight in both his eyes is a lifelong joy and authentication of God’s existence. He vowed to dedicate his life to the work of God. “I going home to serve God find one fine girl, so I can start to born my children and make my farm,” The 25-year-old man told the Daily Observer as he went through the discharge procedure from the Hospital after his both eyes were restored.