On Saturday, I returned to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG) after spending two weeks in Mt. Hagen working with an eye team, performing cataract surgeries for those who had been on the local surgeon’s waitlist for a long time.
I met Lucy and her daughter-in-law Rose at their village during one of our clinics. I was helping in the eye clinic; learning how to do cataract screening. Rose brought her mother-in-law in, and had her sit on the floor.
Lucy didn’t look at anyone and didn’t talk to anyone. She just stared straight ahead. Rose gave me a scrap of paper that said, “This is Lucy. She is a very special case. She has been blind for two years. Please help her see again.”
My heart was moved.
Unfortunately, Lucy didn’t have a health care book, just that scrap of paper and a registration slip. The governing health care body doesn’t have electronic records. With people who don’t have any official addresses, they often don’t know how old they are. The health care book is their official medical record.
The PNG Government ensures they’re documenting for the right person by having everyone keep their own book. When they come to a YWAM clinic, they bring their health care book and we document in that, as well as our own YWAM records. For Lucy to be placed on an official list for cataract surgery, we needed a PNG issued health care book to write her surgery date in and then we would add her name to our list.
It’s the proof that we’ve added her when she brings her book in.
I told Rose, “I’m so sorry, but we can’t put Lucy on the cataract list unless she has a health care book.” Rose then told Lucy to stay where she was and then disappeared for about an hour. She came back with a blank piece of paper. Again I had to tell her, “Sorry, but it has to be an official health care book.” She disappeared again.
The whole time, Lucy continued to sit on the floor in her own little world, unseeing and isolated. I don’t know where Rose went or how she did this, but she appeared over an hour later with a brand new health care book in hand!
Joyfully I took it from her and added it to our stack of patients we needed to see. The eye doctor was able to put Lucy on the waiting list for the cataract surgeries that were going to be taking place the following month.
Three weeks later.
I arrived at the Mount Hagen General Hospital with our new eye team who were going to be performing cataract surgeries over the next two weeks. We went to the eye clinic to meet up with the local health professionals, and who do I see waiting for registration outside the clinic but Lucy and Rose!
I was overjoyed to be able to re-connect with them, and to see that they had made it into the city to receive Lucy’s treatment. I felt so encouraged to be able to see the fruit from our last visit; to be part of the continuity of care for Lucy and her family.
That was Monday.
The following Friday, Lucy received her cataract surgery. Since our ride was late Saturday morning, I didn’t get to see Lucy’s patch being taken off, but I did catch Lucy and Rose leaving the hospital after receiving her post-op assessment.
Lucy was like a completely different person! She was standing up straighter, she was looking at everything, she was interacting with the people around her, and her smile was so full of joy and recognition.
It was like new life had been infused into her bones.
Lucy was just one of the 112 people who had their lives transformed over our last outreach. I felt so honored to be a part of her journey, and so inspired to see her daughter-in-law’s faith as she advocated for Lucy and went the extra mile to ensure she received her miracle.
Ophthalmology Coordinator with YWAM Ships Kona