LDS Charities, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, recently teamed with the University of Zimbabwe Ophthalmology department to perform cataract surgeries by final year Ophthalmology students at St. Michael’s Hospital located in the “bush” area of Mhondoro, about 100 km south of Harare.
The LDS Church previously provided specialized equipment at a cost of nearly $100,000 and now LDS Charities will provide more equipment at a value of approximately $150,000. As part of the funding requirement, the University has agreed to perform surgeries for the poorest segment of society. Elder and Sister Neilson, LDS Charities missionaries, purchased $7,000 of medical supplies and provided the funds for the medical students for their travel and food. Bus transportation for the seventy-five (75) patients was provided by Honourable Member of Parliament for Mhondoro-Mubaira, George Gangarahwe.
The dedicated couple arose early to deliver food to the St Michael’s hospital kitchen each morning to ensure it would be cooked and delivered to the patients.
The people who had been approved for surgery waited patiently, some for as long as two days – sleeping on the floor. Their eyes were clouded over with cataracts and they could barely see. Some were functionally blind and had to be led by the hand to the operating rooms. When it came time to sign the medical waivers, many signed with an X since they could neither read nor write. They were carted into the operating rooms, using the same smocks over and over again, and emerged with patches on their eyes awaiting on overnight stay in the hospital. They never complained at any time even though the operation was painful. They arrived with their own eating utensils and the meager food was served to them sometimes two hours late. The beds were lumpy cots and the air was thick with heat.
But at the end of the two-day period they had smiles on their weathered faces as they would remark “I can see …. I can see!” The blind could now see as though the Savior’s hand had touched their weathered eyes.