Thursday, December 15, 2011
Duk has more than the usual number of AIM Air flights landing here recently. Besides my arrival with Moses and cargo two weeks ago, one flight arrived with medical staff and cargo Tuesday, another one is arriving today with more docs and supplies, and Friday morning we are expecting more ASAH materials, including tiles for the showers and toilets. They’ll be beautiful and hygienic compared to the bare concrete in the pit latrines on the clinic compound.
In spite of hardships like this, the JDF Lost Boys Clinic is doing amazing work in Duk Payuel. Hundreds of people have come from all across the county and beyond—blind people holding sticks held by family members leading them to the promise of sight.
These doctors from the Moran Eye Institute have systems in place, though there are difficulties presented working here where there are no surgical facilities or surgically-trained staff assistants. Nevertheless, they have trained the clinic staff to assist in all aspects from screening to documenting, and the machine looks well-oiled to me.
There is a perfect storm causing blindness here—more percentage of blind people than anywhere else in the world. There is an abundance of UV rays from the ever-present blistering sun, there’s a lack of antioxidants in the diet. The insects and infections and disease that cause glaucoma, trachoma and river blindness are also factors here. In addition, there is a high level of congenital cataracts here. One 18-month-old girl arrived on an AIM flight. She has cataracts, but the surgeons discovered she has additional causes of blindness that are not correctable. Some patients will return home still blind, some will have limited sight, but many will return to their lives with near-perfect vision. There are some whole families—mother and children, who have regained their eyesight.