Celebrating a New Life
Submitted by Mercyships on Fri, 06/29/2012 - 16:11.
On the docks beside the Africa Mercy, many patients make their way to the eye screening tent. This is the final appointment for most of them, and anticipation is high. It is an exciting day for both patients and onlookers, as these people who were once blind from cataracts can now move freely about on their own.
They no longer need caregivers to guide their every step. It has been six weeks since their surgery – and, on every post-op trip to Mercy Ships, their sight has continually improved. Now, they are ready to celebrate their new-found sight . . . and their new-found freedom.
They sit on the benches that create a circle, clearly allowing room for a dance floor. As the drums start to beat, the patients’ hands fly into the air. Within a few minutes, most of them are on the dance floor, joyfully celebrating their new life. Age makes no difference – old and young join together in a joyous dance of gratitude for renewed sight.
After thirty minutes of dancing and singing, the celebration quiets down. Now it is time for testimonies. Several patients volunteer to stand up and give their testimonies to the big crowd gathered to watch this Celebration of Sight.
Many talk about how they could not afford the surgery. As a result, they suffered for years with their vision slowly darkening. They could not leave their homes and could no longer work. Now, they are able to be on their own. This wonderful new freedom fills them with joy.
After the testimonies, they enjoy more praise and worship music, followed by a message of encouragement from Mercy Ships crew. As everyone files out of the tent, the patients’ faces are glowing with smiles as they leave to go home.
As Mercy Ships volunteer Marsha Tribe watches, she says, “It is so powerful to see them walking down the docks by themselves. We have seen them for weeks coming, with someone guiding their every step. Now, they have the freedom to come by themselves.”
Dr. Wodome, a volunteer surgeon with Mercy Ships, sees the joy of all the patients and adds, “This is something really special. This is life-changing for me, as much as it is to the patients.”