Much is happening, mostly good things and the best of it all
is that MaliMali Projects have been able to call in Dr. Faira Keita and his cataract team again: they are here at the moment
giving free operations to 100 people. My cousin Pelle and his wife Nanni have
been faithful sponsors of these operations for four years now- last January in Keita’s
father’s home village Medine near Kayes and now for the third time in Djenné.
It started with the opening ceremony last Thursday when all
the authorities of Djenné were present. Speeches were held by the Maire Boucoum
(who incidentally was the ‘mud architect’ of Hotel Djenné Djenno!) the new
Prefect above; Dr Faira and even I had to say
Fortunately these speeches were fairly short ones
because everyone wanted the work to get started on the waiting patients, many
of whom had slept in the hospital grounds during the night in order to be the first to be examined to be sure
to be amongst the chosen ones: the hundred first ones. The free operations had
been advertised on local radio in Fulfulde, Bambara, Songhai and Bozo over the
Some villagers don’t speak any Bambara, such as this lovely
old Fulani who told me through his son that he has sixty cows. I told him I wanted
one for a present. He thought this very funny.
The consultations started and the cataract cases were
diagnosed and given a place on the operating list while the patients with other
diseases were given prescriptions and advice:
the trachoma cases will also be operated on since MaliMali has still
some funding for these operations too from earlier sponsorship.
As soon as the
first fifteen cataract cases had been diagnosed Dr. Faira started operating.
The following morning my friend and long term hotel guest Andrea
and I went early to the hospital. We wanted to see the first bandages come off.
It is of course mainly older people who suffer
from cataracts; but there are many younger ones too:
this woman cannot be much
older than thirty-thirty five years old. She had such a sad face and I wanted
to know more about her: she had nine children and she had been totally blind
with cataracts on both eyes. She was operated on one eye and therefore is now
able to see again- there were several patients like her who saw again for the
first time in years maybe. Faira said that malnutrition can also be a factor to
bring on early cataracts. It is quite difficult to conceive how hard the life
is for these villagers...
A little boy was diagnosed with a cataract which has made him
blind on one eye- this was due to an accident with a horse whip apparently. Faira
said that if we were in Bamako we would have a scan done on the eye to find out
more information. As it is he will attempt the operation- it cannot do him any
harm- but it is only a fifty- fifty chance that he will get his sight back- we
will follow this case and be there when the bandages are taken off. Watch this