Blindness had crushed Jack’s spirit. It started after his right eye was injured – which is extremely common among the thorns, barbs and branches of PNG’s dense rainforest. In fact, 1-in-15 men and 1-in-10 women in the Highlands struggle with blindness.
“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” – Matthew 22:39
After his eye injury, both of Jack’s eyes became misted, with the telltale white disks of cataracts. The lenses of his eyes were clouding over, until finally he could see nothing at all. Just a harsh, blinding white haze.
It is a devastating thing to be blind in the PNG Highlands. Everything Jack did – to stay safe, to earn a living, to support his family – all depended entirely on his sense of sight. Then it was gone. He was totally blind.
Unable to see, Jack could no longer work to provide for his wife and newborn son – a son whose face he had never seen. He was powerless to leave the house without being led. Blindness broke Jack’s spirit. He lost all desire to be with other people. In his village, no-one knew how to encourage him. Even his family stopped being able to talk to him. Jack became depressed, angry, isolated and withdrawn. He felt his life was over. He lost all hope of ever being a productive member of his family and his village.
Then people like you came into his life, and made it possible for Jack to be part of a week-long eye surgery outreach clinic. These outreach clinics are highly effective, with many people like Jack being operated on to restore their sight, but these outreach clinics cannot happen without you.
Patients in the Highlands of PNG cannot afford to pay for food or even basic accommodation at the outreach clinics, let alone the full surgery, medical equipment and supplies. Bus tickets for Jack and his parents to reach the outreach clinic cost two full months of the family’s income! That is how poor they are. This expense depressed Jack even more. He felt his family was taking a terrible risk with their future, because he could not believe someone like you would really pay for effective surgery.
Even to reach the road, to catch the bus, Jack had to be led by the hand for hours – barefoot and sightless – through thick rainforest, along steep muddy trails and across rivers with no bridges. The site of the outreach clinic itself was a little better, but there were frequent power cuts and even a 7.2 magnitude earthquake!
When Jack arrived at the outreach clinic, he received another blow; he was told his right eye was too badly injured to be saved, it will always be blind. But thankfully, one restored eye is far better than none. The white, blinding cataract was removed from his left eye. A clear new lens was inserted.
The next morning, Jack waited patiently in line to have the patch removed from his left eye. When it was his turn to have it removed, sudden relief and joy flooded his face! Jack could see again! All that weight went flying off his shoulders, and he was overwhelmed to realise that he really would be able to see his son for the very first time.
From that moment, Jack was a completely different man. He walked with his head held high, a broad smile stretched across his face. He opened his heart to everyone around him, happily jostling his father and making jokes.
Because of generous support like yours, Jack sees his future as bright. Now he can work hard again, to provide for his family. His children will be able to go to school. He wants to look after his mum and dad, as they looked after him.
“All I think about is getting home to see my son, my wife and my family, and to start my life again.”