Restoring Sight in Liberia

February 1, 2019 • Liberia
A Samaritan's Purse Liberia staff member shares the Gospel with cataract patients at ELWA hospital.
A Samaritan's Purse Liberia staff member shares the Gospel with cataract patients at ELWA hospital.

Through cataract removal surgery at ELWA Hospital near Monrovia, Samaritan’s Purse surgical teams are helping Liberians see again.

Eleven-month-old Jerrylyn was abandoned as an infant and found covered by ants in a Monrovia dumpster.

Jerrylyn is carried from the operating room after her cataract surgery.

Jerrylyn is carried from the operating room after her cataract surgery.

“Her eyes would turn very red and she could not keep from scratching them and crying,” Jerrylyn’s adoptive mother, Vera, shared. “When we would talk to her, she could not see us. She would look around when she heard our voices but would not look at us.”

Agnus Weah, a 35-year-old mother of two daughters, had her vision stolen by factory chemicals while working the only job she could find.

“In my community, they would mock me,” Agnus said. “I would be crossing the street and hear them say, ‘Oh blind woman! Be careful or you’ll get hit by a car!’ Then they would laugh at me as if I was deaf too and couldn’t hear the mean things they were saying.”

Pinky lost her sight from an errant belt buckle. Saah, an 80-year-old farmer, lost his vision as an indirect result of the Liberian Civil War.

We praise God that what connects these individuals is not the suffering they’ve endured, but that each of them were patients who received life-changing cataract removal surgery last year at ELWA hospital through Samaritan’s Purse medical teams.

For two years now, we have deployed highly-skilled surgeons, ophthalmologists, and nurses to Liberia where they have provided more than 200 procedures to restore sight to desperate men, women, and children. Cataracts—a clouding of the lens leading to impaired vision—can grow steadily worse and lead to permanent blindness if left untreated.

Many patients could never afford such a procedure, and many others already had spent all the money they could on other operations that didn’t work.

Hope, Sight Restored

Visual impairment in Liberia can lead to a whole host of problems including unemployment and increased risk of physical harm. The disability also often leads to social rejection and ridicule.

Agnus Weah receives an examination after cataract surgery restored her sight.

Agnus Weah receives an examination after cataract surgery restored her sight.

When Agnus arrived at ELWA hospital, it had been six years since she’d seen the faces of loved ones, and she had grown increasingly dependent on others to get around and take care of her daily needs. She eventually had to send her daughters away to live with relatives because she couldn’t care for them.

She came to ELWA hoping to see again so that she might eventually be reunited with her children. Within hours of her arrival, Agnus became one of dozens of patients who, over the course of four days, had surgeries to repair their damaged eyes.

When she left with bandaged eyes the first day, she was hopeful that the next day her darkened sight might be replaced by clear vision.

When she returned the following morning, a friend led her to where a crowd of patients had already gathered in the palava hut, a small shelter structure at ELWA. An expectant but almost somber silence filled the space.

Jerrylyn looks up at her father, Jeremiah, after cataract surgery allowed her to see him clearly for the first time.

Jerrylyn looks up at her father, Jeremiah, after cataract surgery allowed her to see him clearly for the first time.

For so many of them, the years had been filled with pain and repeated disappointments.

Then the medical team began to make their way around the hut, sparking joy in patients whose bandages were removed to reveal a new world to the now-seeing patients.

Young Jerrylyn, squinting as the bright light of day reached her eyes, could clearly see for the first time in months.

As Pinky’s bandages were taken off and she was able to see, she and her father, William, celebrated success after many failed attempts to restore her vision. “I am just too happy,” William said. “I praise God.”

When Saah’s bandages were removed, he tossed aside a cane he’d been using to guide his steps. “Praise God. Praise God. Praise God,” he said with a huge smile across his face.

And when they arrived at Agnus and began to remove her bandages, she immediately realized she could see clearly for the first time in years. She began to sing loudly.

Saah can see for the first time in years after receiving cataract surgery from our medical team.

Saah can see for the first time in years after receiving cataract surgery from our medical team.

Later she shared her story—her husband abandoning her and her daughters, her meager income, and her eventual blindness.

“I could not even see well enough to sign my name,” she recalled. But then she expressed her gratitude for what God had done in her life, including, now, restoring her eyesight. “But you know, I can see now! I praise my God for doing this for me and for bringing Samaritan’s Purse here.”

Through these cataract surgeries, our medical teams, have done more than just restore the gift of physical sight. By helping in Jesus’ Name, these dedicated men and women have provided an open door for proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to suffering people.

In the same palava hut where so many patients had rediscovered sight, a member of the Samaritan’s Purse Liberia team shared the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Agnus said she was eager to go home and share, even with those who had ridiculed her, what Jesus had done in her life.

“He didn’t have to do it but He did,” Agnus sang loudly. “He didn’t have to do it but He did. He woke me up this morning, sent me on my way, He didn’t have to do it but He did.”

SUPPORT
Your gift of $50 will help cover the cost of simple eye surgery for someone who yearns to see, work, teach, or read the Word of God.
Restore Sight to the Blind Your gift of $50 will help cover the cost of simple eye surgery for someone who yearns to see, work, teach, or read the Word of God.

Cataract Surgery 014012
Suggested Gift: $40
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