Imagine waking up to a world of shadows. Imagine your livelihood being stripped away because you cannot see to garden and work the way you used to. The family that once relied on you for care can no longer. This was Sibia’s life for the past nine months.
This man, who is only in his 40s, began noticing a difference in his vision about 15 years ago. The cataracts in both of his eyes were made significantly worse after he suffered minor trauma to the face nine months ago. A few days after his trauma, he could no longer see. With only one eye that perceived shadows, this gardener and fence-maker’s life was greatly impacted. He still worked, but it was not the same.
He felt helpless to fend for his kids still in school. He was not sure how to take care of their school fees with no work. He was also struggling with having land taken from him and not being able to properly deal with it because of his lack of vision.
Sibia had seen a doctor in Daru about it, but was put on a waiting list, unsure when, if ever, he would get his sight back. As YWAM Medical Ships Australia (YWAM MSA) made its way to Daru, Sibia was in his village of Abam. He heard his name announced for surgery over the radio. He, his wife, and two grandchildren got in their dingy and made the trip to Daru.
Having slept in his dingy on the shore, Sibia waited patiently at the hospital for YWAM MSA’s second day of clinics to get his left eye restored. Volunteer, Dr. Bill Talbot from Australia, performed the surgery. Dr. Bill was amazed at the density and advancement of the cataracts, proof of the deep need for more ophthalmology care in the Western Province.
After the surgery, Sibia was given a place in the hospital to rest, the greatest part of his journey to occur the following morning.
Almost any volunteer in ophthalmology will tell you the best part of their job is seeing the eye patch removed the day after surgery. Those who were once blind, regain sight and a new lease on life. Sibia’s reveal was even better because he was blind in both eyes. The other patients and volunteers gathered around as he pointed out objects and people he had not been able to see for a long time. The other patients cheered and congratulated him, more joyful even about his sight than their own. A large smile was etched across his face.
Before his surgery Sibia had stated the things he looked forward to the most would be reading his Bible, seeing his wife’s face, and especially looking at the grandchildren he had never seen before. Thanks to the volunteers and staff of YWAM MSA, he is doing just that right now.