Cataracts - Rwanda

Thank you for helping those living with the double disadvantage of poverty and disability. Each and every gift you send is truly appreciated.
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Cataracts - Rwanda


Support the Kabgayi Eye Unit and give the miracle of sight to more children, like Jonas, who are needlessly blind…

The Kabgayi Eye Unit (KEU) is a department within Kabgayi Hospital located in Muhanga District in the Southern Province of Rwanda. Kabgayi Hospital is run by the Catholic Diocese of Kabgayi and works in partnership with cbm and the Rwandan Ministry of Health, who has recognised KEU as a referral centre for ophthalmology in Rwanda.

The eye unit officially opened in 1993, thanks to collaboration between Kabgayi Diocese and cbm, and significant improvements were made in 2002 when the first full time ophthalmologist arrived. Situated between two major cities in Rwanda, Kigali and Butare, it is easily accessible with public transport and is now the most productive eye unit in Rwanda, performing about 6,000 surgeries every year. KEU receives patients referred by health centres and hospitals from the whole country – an estimated 80% of all eye surgeries in Rwanda are performed by the Kabgayi ophthalmologists.

KEU is focused on reaching the poor, and welcomes patients from within the country as well as neighbouring countries such as East Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda and Burundi. KEU also conducts surgical outreach clinics all over Rwanda to serve the poorest people in hard to reach places.

Kabgayi Eye Unit has an outreach programme to serve people in the poorest rural communities that cannot afford to leave work or pay the cost of travel for checkups. The services of Kabgayi Eye Unit significantly contribute to eradicating avoidable blindness in Rwanda. Cataract remains the major cause for blindness (56%) and severe visual impairment (33%) in Rwanda.


Rwanda is home to 12 million people, distributed over a large area. There is a pressing need for more specialist eye surgeons. Whereas New Zealand has over 160 ophthalmologists, there are just 18 ophthalmologists in Rwanda living solely in the capital city. Consequently, people living in rural areas are especially vulnerable to avoidable blindness and visual impairment, particularly from cataracts and glaucoma.


  • Resourcing the Kabgayi Eye Unit with a local ophthalmologist to provide eye care services in the Hospital and at outreach clinics.
  • Supporting the ongoing training of a second local ophthalmologist to join the workforce at Kabgayi Eye Unit.

Additional information


One-off, Every Week, Every 2 Weeks, Every 4 Weeks, Every Month, Quarterly, Annually


Becoming blind is devastating… and even a death sentence… for children in the world’s poorest places…

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.– Jesus, in Matthew 6:22

Thank you for each and every gift you give to help children and adults living with avoidable blindness in the world’s poorest places. Without your faithful support, their future is often bleak, with many becoming depressed and isolated, having to rely on family members and others for care their entire lives.

By restoring the sight of children, like six-year-old Jonas, you are giving children a far brighter future: the chance to go to school, to learn a trade, to put severe poverty behind them – all through your gift towards 45 life-changing minutes of sight-restoring surgery! Thank you for giving so freely!

It’s because of the faithful generosity of people like you that Jonas was able to receive his miracle of sight freely. His family is so grateful because they had spent everything, just to get him to the waiting room of the Eye Unit that generous people like you support in Rwanda – the cbm-funded Kabgayi Eye Unit.

Please will you keep giving children, like Jonas, the miracle of sight by supporting cbm-funded hospitals, eye doctors, staff and all the patients who need their sight so much, in the world’s poorest places.

Your generous gift today will help restore the sight of a child like Jonas.

Life for Jonas and his family is very challenging. Year after year, their harvests have been poor.

“It has been too dry, for too long,” says his worried father, Elisaphan. “Many cows have died and many people have fled. We have not had any rain for two rainy seasons.”

To make a little money, the family began raising their neighbour’s six goats – tending and feeding them. It was a simple arrangement, like something from Biblical times. They would get to keep the first-born baby goats – with the hope of starting a little flock of their own.

As the goats were growing, though, so were the blinding cataracts in Jonas’s eyes.

Just at the age when Jonas should have been starting school, just when his future was opening up, his eyes were closing down.

Filmy cataracts in his eyes began to blur the light, making it harder and harder to see. His parents could see large white spots growing right in the centre of their little boy’s eyes.

“We didn’t know what this might be, but a neighbour told me it might be cataracts and we should look for medical help,” says Elisaphan.

They took Jonas to their local medical clinic, and there they learnt they would have to travel to the cbm-funded Kabgayi Eye Unit for free cataract surgery on Jonas’s young eyes!!

They couldn’t believe that a generous person like you would help pay for their son’s eye surgery! They felt incredibly blessed by this amazing gift, but there was one very big hurdle. They needed to pay for the bus fare to get to the Eye Unit.

This came as a hard blow to Jonas’s parents. How could they possibly afford the fare? After all their hard work raising their neighbour’s goats, they decided they would have to sell the promised first-born baby goats to pay for the bus fare. But would it be enough?

The bus fare alone to the Eye Unit would cost as much as four little first-born baby goats – which they didn’t think was possible from their neighbour’s small flock.

This is the devastating effect the double disadvantage of poverty and disability has for struggling families living in the world’s poorest places.

Such despair… but then God stepped in with a Spring surprise for this precious family.

Jonas’s miracle of sight began with the unexpected arrival of two sets of twin goats! Just enough to pay for the bus fare for Jonas and Elisaphan to go to the cbm-funded Kabgayi Eye Unit! Excited and relieved, the family began preparing for the life-changing journey.

With grateful hearts, Elisaphan and Jonas set off on their journey, and after a long bus ride, they expectantly sat in the packed waiting room at the Eye Unit, waiting to be seen by the cbm-funded ophthalmologist.

Relief flooded over Elisaphan. He was so thankful to know that Jonas’s operation was going to be paid in full by a generous person like you, someone who he had never met, living in another country.

Thank you for your loving kindness to help children like Jonas and their families.

When it came to his turn, the cbm-funded ophthalmologist examined Jonas, along with four other little children, and confirmed they all needed urgent cataract surgery.

Every day, especially in the first few years of brain development, a child can permanently lose the ability to see perfectly, even if sight is restored. Please send your gift today. Sight is so vital to the survival of a child like Jonas.

The children were nervous of course, but Jonas put his arm around one frightened little girl, as if to say, It’s going to be all right. Soon we are going to see!

He was right! In their little blue surgical gowns, one by one the children, under general anaesthetic, received their first operation on one eye. Carefully and skillfully, their highly-trained cbm-funded ophthalmologist replaced each child’s blinding cataract with a perfectly clear new lens.

The quality of surgery the cbm-funded ophthalmologists provide is very high, even amid such poverty.

Your generosity is helping to give children and adults the chance to see again, when they could not possibly dream of paying for it themselves. Again, thank you for helping reduce avoidable blindness in the world’s poorest places.

The miracle of sight-saving cataract surgery is truly amazing! The eye is so complex, but in the way God has designed it, a simple piece of clear plastic can be slipped in… to provide a lifetime of sight. It truly is miraculous!

The next day, the bandage was removed from Jonas’s eye. Instantly, he could see more clearly than he had in ages. He just stood there, marvelling at the beauty of an African flower.

But his miracle was not yet over. A second operation took place soon after, to spare the children and the families the stress and expense of returning to the Eye Unit.

Today there are many children, like Jonas, in need of urgent cataract surgery to remove their blinding cataracts. Please will you prayerfully consider sending another of your generous gifts to make miracles like Jonas’s happen for children living in poverty with avoidable blindness.

Your gift could help give the miracle of sight of a child, like Jonas, including general anaesthetic, so the little patient can sleep still and safe through their delicate surgery.

Your gift could also help train an ophthalmologist at the cbm-funded Kabgayi Eye Unit. Trainee ophthalmologists in places like Rwanda, feel called to restore sight, but the specialist training is more than they can afford. Please help them become ophthalmologists. Your generous gift will keep working through their skilled hands for decades to come.

Thank you for making it possible for children like Jonas to receive the miracle of sight. Because of you, they will not become stigmatized and isolated, having to rely on family members and others for care their entire lives. Instead, you are giving children, like Jonas, a far brighter future: the chance to go to school and to learn a trade, and most importantly, the chance to put severe poverty behind them. Thank you for your kind and caring heart.

The Spring blessing of four first-born baby goats was enough to get Jonas to the waiting room of the cbm-funded Kabgayi Eye Unit, but it was a loving gift like yours that helped him to see again! Please make this possible for other children who need their sight restored to help overcome the cycle of poverty and disability. Thank you so much for your ongoing support and for sending your generous gift today.