Monday, January 25, 2016

Cataract Operations

 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 something appropriate... 
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 previous week. 

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 space!


Blogger Susan Scheid said...

This is such a hopeful, beautiful thing. Thank you for sharing it.

11:27 PM  
Blogger David said...

Always good to see the before and after - even more impactful than the smiles an American student got out of her contemporaries simply by telling them they were beautiful. The transformation on even the plainest face did indeed make them beautiful. Three 'skol's for Cousin Pelle and his wife.

10:43 AM  
Blogger mary said...

Well done for all your energy and efforts to help these people limited by cataracts. The gift of sight is a joy which we take for granted.
Will the younf blind lady be able to have her second eye done or will someone else be a higher priority? What a hard job to choose the haves and the have nots for the surgery.

5:25 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

Thank you Susan David and Mary- it is a great thing to be involved in. There is only one eye done per person. The operations have been heavily over subscribed and we could have done 300! If all goes well perhaps we can do it again next year and then she can come back.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth F said...

Wonderful stories, thank you so much

7:30 AM  

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