Twenty seven year old mother of 3, Makasi, was one of 65 patients who received a collective 71 eye surgeries at Daru hospital over two weeks, helping to restore sight and improve quality of life.
The outreach was part of the fourth year of the YWAM Medical Ship’s health and training service delivery in Papua New Guinea.
Makasi’s husband, Wiesa, did the gardening, made sago, fished and took care of the children while she remained house-bound, unable to provide for their family. Makasi had presumed congenital cataracts, a clouding of the lens that is present at birth, which had caused her eyesight to deteriorate throughout her life, causing her to go blind ten years ago at age 17.
The couple paddled for two weeks by canoe with their children (ages 5, 3 and 1) from their village in the South Fly, Orio, to meet the YWAM Medical Ship in Daru to have her eyes tested.
When the YWAM MSA team first met Makasi, she could not see a hand waving one metre in front of her, let alone an eye chart.
YWAM MSA’s optometrist, Julie Jones, volunteering from New Zealand, recalls meeting the woman, “When Makasi walked in the room she had to be led in by her husband. Her eyes were downcast and her face was expressionless. When we asked her to sit down, she had to put her hand out to feel where the chair was.”
After undergoing testing, YWAM MSA’s ophthalmic team concluded that Makasi was a surgical candidate. The two 30 minute procedures to remove cataracts from both eyes produced immediate results and Makasi saw her three children for the first time in her life.
“When Makasi came in the day after her surgery for post-op, she was a completely different person. She didn’t need anyone to guide her around the room; she was independent and engaged, and could see almost to the bottom of the eye chart!.” Said Julie.
Makasi is just one of thousands of people that have been impacted by YWAM MSA’s services and training in the Gulf and Western Provinces. This year alone, YWAM MSA has achieved 63,548 outputs including immunisations, family planning, primary health care services, dentistry procedures, optical services and training for rural health workers.
YWAM MSA’s outreach season was helped by made possible through it’s partners, National Department of Health, Steamships Trading Company, InterOil, Western Provincial Government, Gulf Provincial Government and PNG Ports Corporation.
The YWAM Medical Ship hasreturned to Townsville and will be returning to Papua New Guinea in March 2014 for its fifth outreach season.