Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Eye Camp

By Maureen Nakalinzi 

It is 8am in the morning as I make my rounds around four villages in a taxi (Nakamini, Bunio, Butongole and Bulamagi) to pick up patients who will be going for eye surgery at Iganga Hospital. In all the villages, I find them seated outside together with their families waiting for me. One of them actually tells me, “I am not late today, I have kept Mzungu time and you have kept African time because you are 10 minutes late." During the taxi ride, most of them are quiet -- probably wondering what will happen during surgery -- and for those who were completely blind, probably pondering the prospects of seeing again.

We reach the hospital after a few minutes and it’s a sea of people outside. They are people surrounding every corner of the eye clinic waiting for their chance to see the doctor. The eye clinic is a very small room inside the antenatal ward which can only fit two patients and two doctors at a time. Luckily for me, since UVP has an agreement with Sight Savers International (the organization that sponsors the eye camp) and Iganga Hospital, my patients where already screened and diagnosed, so we are spared waiting in the long lines outside and asked to join those that are waiting for surgery in the next building.

The surgery room is a small room inside the maternity ward and while my patients sit on the ground in the corridor waiting for the surgeon, throngs of women in labor pass by and my patients pray silently for good outcomes for themselves and for those women. The doctor arrives at 4pm and we have been seated waiting in that corridor since morning. She apologizes for coming late and announces that she can only perform four cataract surgeries and everyone else can wait until tomorrow. Since my patients are among the first four people, they will be asked to enter one at a time for the surgery.

After 15 minutes, the first patients walk out of the tiny room. I am asked to get one of the patients a place to rest in the male ward. Unfortunately since the hospital is a very small place, there are not enough beds for every patient to sleep. Just as I try to get a bed, the doctor politely asks me to give it up because there is a patient in a more critical condition. The patient ends up sleeping under a mango tree after surgery and in the evening after all the women in the antenatal ward have been attended to, we convert this ward into “the after surgery ward” for eye care patients. Every patient that comes into that ward to rest can’t wait for the next morning when they will remove the bandages on their eyes and they will be able to see again. They keep telling me, “we don’t care about sleeping on papyrus mats for tonight, tomorrow will be a new day in our lives.”

Maureen is a Uganda Village Project Program Coordinator who works on the ground in Iganga. 


Gloria Tran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gloria Tran said...

that's beautiful, Maureen. Thank you for all that you do, and your incredible hard work! (You also have a lovely writing voice)
[hope you can relay that to her, Anthony]

Hamid Khan said...

It is appreciated that you are giving eyecare facilities to the people.

There should be a regular eye check-up also besides all important precautions.

I suggest two donation based eye clinics for poor patients for checkup and surgeries, Vision Trust Eye Clinic and Mehr-un-Nisa Eye Clinic for Eye Surgeon

And please send your donations to us to help us helping more eye patients.

Best regards