The YWAM Medical Ships Australia & PNG (YWAM MS) optometry team were running a mobile clinic in a remote village in Finschhafen District when they were called upon for a house visit to assess a young patient.
The team made their way up to the patient’s house and were introduced to a four-year old girl named Ruth*. Her tiny frame was huddled in her mother’s arms as she cried excessively; her frail body and the distress shown on her face revealed that she was in pain and uncomfortable.
Ruth’s mother shared with the team that Ruth had a history of polio, malaria, and rheumatic fever. Her illness had caused her to be malnourished and unable to walk. Her eyes were also turned in. “Is there anything you can do for my daughter’s eyes?” her mother asked.
Optometry team leader, Emma Robinson, looked at Ruth and her mother with compassion and said they would assess Ruth’s eyesight to determine if they can help.
YWAM MS’ volunteer optometrist from Specsavers in Townsville, Vincent Meehan, managed to assess Ruth’s eyesight through her tears as her mother tried to soothe her.
“During her assessment, I discovered that she was moderately long-sighted and cross-eyed (also known as strabismus); which can be corrected with a pair of glasses,” said Vincent.
After Vincent identified Ruth’s prescription, Emma searched the database for a pair of glasses that would match the prescription Ruth needed.
YWAM MS’ glasses are sourced from the Lions Recycle for Sight program. Pre-loved, quality glasses are donated by Australians at various collection points across Australia. The glasses are then checked, cleaned, and categorised, before being sent to YWAM MS to distribute to patients just like Ruth in remote communities across PNG.
Once a pair of glasses were found for Ruth, Vincent fitted them to her small face.
“As soon as we put on the glasses, Ruth’s crying immediately stopped! The glasses made a dramatic difference – her eyes aligned and she could see clearly. It was such a special moment,” said Vincent.
Ruth’s tears were traded for smiles as she began to wave at Vincent and Emma, looking at them through her new pair of glasses.
Ruth is just one of 61,640 patients who have received a pair of glasses from YWAM MS since 2010. To help someone just like Ruth, donate a pair of pre-loved quality glasses to your local Lions club.