In October Murray Sheard, CEO cbm NZ, had the opportunity to travel to the Eastern Highlands Province in Papua New Guinea.
cbm has been working in PNG for 40 years and I marvelled at the depth of the partnerships, all the work that has gone before, and what they had achieved. I am so grateful for every gift you have faithfully given to support the ministry of cbm New Zealand over the years.
While I was there, I was fortunate to spend time with Dr Geoffrey Wabulembo, cbm’s Ophthalmologist who teaches at the University and conducts operations at the Goroka clinic and at other locations around the country.
At the Goroka Eye Clinic the focus was on surgery and treatments for children. Thankfully we were able to use the main operating theatre which has general anaesthetic equipment. I witnessed a three-year old girl, Adeola (pictured), have a squint corrected and the next day, off came the bandages and she could look straight ahead for the first time since she was 18-months old. This corrective surgery was only possible thanks to generous people like you, and it has given Adeola a much brighter future.
It was amazing to hear that 25,000 surgeries have been conducted by cbm, and because of people like you, 25,000 lives have been radically changed! And half of those surgeries were through outreach clinics where the doctors and nurses travel to remote villages to undertake eye operations, which without your support would not be possible.
I was also blessed to be in PNG for World Sight Day (10th October). The eye clinic and the inclusive education centres usually have small separate celebrations but because Dr Geoffrey and I were there, they combined these together for one big celebration with the general public at Peace Park, the local community gathering place.
Over 1,000 people turned up to hear the celebration and listen to the beautiful sounds of The Braille Boys, a band made up of visually impaired students. Dr Geoffrey, the CEO of the Hospital, the Head of the Provincial Health Authority and I all pushed the same message: Come to the clinic! Do not suffer in silence! We really made an impact, as on the way out, people came to our car window to ask about making an appointment, so we know the message was heard.
I visited Faniufa Primary School and saw the inclusive education work of our partner, Callan Services. Many children who would otherwise miss out on an education were in class learning. At an assembly I spoke about how my friend, who has a disability, is my friend first and foremost. I felt God’s hand on us as the children then got up to sing a beautiful song with a refrain, “don’t look at my disability, look at my ability”.
It’s an exciting time to be working in PNG, and over the coming years I would like to invite you to be a part of an exciting journey to transform lives by giving sight to the blind, and bringing hope to blind and low vision children, through assisting them with their education so they are not left behind, and can look forward to a brighter future.
Thank you for your generous heart and for caring for those living with the double disadvantage of poverty and disability.