(March 15, 2021, Tappita City, Nimba)—The Liberian government through the Ministry of Health (MOH) in collaboration with New Sight Eye Center on March 13, 2021 concluded a free rural surgical Cataracts outreach 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 Purse while New Sight Eye Canter is serving as implementing partner.
A surgical team comprising four Liberian Surgeons headed by Liberia’s National Eye Health Program Manager Dr. Joseph L. Kerkula of Ministry of Health was dispatched from Monrovia March 1, 2021 for the twelve-day project.
The arrival of the team in Tappita at the Jackson F. Doe Regional Referral Hospital coincided with the visitation meeting with Dr. Benjamin Harris, President of the Liberia College of physician and Grant Manager of Lion Club Foundation.
During the brief meeting Dr. Joseph L. Kerkula used the occasion to thank both Samaritan Purse and the New Sight Eye Canter for their tremendous supports to the Liberia’s Health sector, noting that the project will serve as monument for the citizens in the region.
For his part, Dr. John Tamba, Acting Executive Chief Office of the Jackson F. Doe Regional Referral Hospital, lauded the efforts of SP and NSEC for the preferred of Jackson F. Doe Regional Referral Hospital in Tappita.
Dr. Joseph stated that move will serve as luminary scars on the minds and faces of the entire Nimba County.
The meeting which is considered to be an iconic and must 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 of Samaritan Purse.
However, Henry Wongbeh, a 63-year old man narrated that he got blind as the result of working extensively on his Cocoa farm in Yorpea Nimba mid of 2016.
He stated that his condition of blindness worsened weeks later after the incident occurred.
According to him, he believed he was made blind by some witch in the area because of his Cocoa plantation.
The 63 years old father of 8, grandpa of 6, noted that after the unfortunate incident begins using traditional medicines and in order to curb the situation.
Mr.Wongbeh said due to his condition he abandoned all his farming activities and begins sitting home all along in the village when everyone else goes on the farm for 5-years.
Henry pointed out that his children consistent stealing of his Cocoa and his anxiousness to continue serving God prompted him to have gone for the surgery upon hearing the news on air.
‘’Getting my eyeball back my son is the wonder of God, ’’ Mr. Wongbeh said Liberian English.
He praised the project team and rained blessings on them for the sacrifices made by extending the outreach service to Nimba.
Bill Gbormia-25 years old: “Cataract is not prominent among young people meanly in their 20s. But Bill Gbormia’s case is extraordinarily mind-boggling.”
Bill told the project’s media team that, the week of his unfortunate loss of his both parents in a tragic accident turned out to be the same week he lost his both sights to particles of cement bags he was lifting in late 2015.
Bill said during the time of his illness, his 3 siblings including 16 half brothers and sisters totalling 19 abandoned, neglected and outcaste him except for his senior brother he currently stays with.
Gbormia who comes from one of Liberia’s tribal groups Geo in Tappita, Nimba County, narrated that the painful condition and peer-bullied pushed him several times to attempt committing suicide.
He said taking his life would have been the best solution to his problem, but each time he attempted doing so God would intervened by speaking to him to stop.
The bilateral-cataract man Gbormia’s facial appearance, with his overgrown finger and toe nails, and recent rough hair and bear shaved, coupled with mushroom mole covering his teeth showed that Bill was actually living in total captivity and neglect.
25 years old Bill described the coming of the surgical team to Nimba as a miracle he has long awaited fasted and praised for.
Bill named his inability to identified colours, light, walk in and out of bed, even the food he used to eat among others as things he really wish he had eyes to see.
‘’I never use to see anything with my two eyes in the town (the village), people use to laugh at me, I was looking like fun box, the mean thing da used to make me cry is no woman wanted me’’. Bill told me in Liberian colloquial with an exciting smile on his face as we walked in the corridor of the hospital.
Gbormia asserted further that regaining his both sights is a lifelong joy and authentication of God’s existence and 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 years said to me as we parted company during his discharge from the Hospital when his both eyes were restored .
Love Leeway-26 yrs old: “Born and raised in Butuo Nimba County May 8, 1995 is Love Leeway who had bilateral-cataract for 10-years.”
Love said she woke up one morning and noticed her both eyes began to itch and tears begin rolling down her cheeks, that’s when she noticed her eyes wouldn’t see no more.
Leeway said the incident occurred in Tappita where she had gone to stay with her mother’s friend, because her father died and her single mother couldn’t carter to the rest of all 7 siblings.
After the incident Love said her mother’s friend retuned her (Love) to her mom because her condition was worsening.
‘’I was in 4th grade, I have to drop from school because when I go to school anything the teachers them write on the blackboard I can’t see one’’. Love said in broken-Liberian English.
Love informed me that she has given birth 3-times and 2 of her children passed away and one is currently alive.
The 26 years old girl with tears rolling down her eyes and a faint light seems not to be penetrating her eye lenses narrated that, that two of the children’s father broke up with her and abandoned her along with one of the children, on the instruction of his mother due to her unbearable condition.
‘’His ma say he mum leave me, because I blind, I can’t see and her son have to go Monrovia and go to school than to be behind blind girl like me’’. Her voice began to hallo as she struggled expressing her pains in plain English for my understanding.
When asked how she was impregnated 3-times in roll, the 26-years woman said, due to her blindness men in the village took advantage of her situation and several times had unwanted sex withher when everyone had gone on the farm.
Something she said led to her loss of her virginity and her gettingpregnant several times.
‘’I used to cry every day, I used to be thinking that my life finish na and I have no reason to live’’. Love shackled as I managed to quench my petty for her (Love) by flipping the pages of my notebook.
she intoned that she never believed God ever existed but, regaining her 10-years of lost sights to bilateral cataracts shows that there exists a God that cares, and using Samaritan Purse to show his infinite love that has for people.
‘’The way I can see now, I going to serve God and go back to school.’’ Love said further as I concluded my interview with her after her multiple eye surgeries the next day.
She used the medium to eulogized Samaritan Purse, New Sight Eye Center and the team of Liberian surgeons for their great and Monumental work and giving her back dignity and proud amongst people.
In conclusion, the project previously targeted ninety Cataracts surgeries but due to the team’s hard work and relentless commitment to the job, was able to performed 105 surgeries out of 1800 persons who were screened and pre-screened from March 2-13, 2021.
Director of Communications, MOH, R.L.