She’s unsure of her age but remembers soldiers visiting her village during the Second World War. Cataracts in both eyes forced her to leave her home village and go to live hours away with her daughter. She could no longer grow her own food, move around, or take care of herself. She was completely dependent on her family.
“I feel sorry for my family and grandchildren having to look after me. My family do things like bringing me to the toilet and staying with me until I sleep. Before, when I could still see, it wasn’t like this. I think, what’s wrong with me?”
Bibiane told us she was lonely and isolated in an unfamiliar environment.
“When I tried to cook food on the fire, the food got burned, because I couldn’t see anymore. I couldn’t see the house, the road, nothing.”
Unfortunately, Bibiane’s plight is all too common. Papua New Guinea is desperately short of eye care services. In a country of 7.2 million, there are just nine trained eye doctors. That’s like having one eye doctor for the entire South Island.
When Bibiane found out about Modilon Eye Clinic in Madang (now the Madang Eye Clinic), she felt stirrings of hope that they might be able to restore her sight.
“They told me 'if you go to the doctor, they can clean your eyes so you can see again’. So I dressed up in my best clothes and I went.”
The surgical team at the clinic were able to restore sight in both of her eyes, and what a transformation. Bibiane returned home a different woman. She was able to look after herself again, contribute to her household, and share the songs and stories of her village with her grandchildren. She was overjoyed.
“Now I can see clearly. I am thankful for the doctor and the work he did. I can cook, go to the river, bathe, go to the toilet. That’s what makes me happy.”
No one should be needlessly blind when there’s a solution: a simple 20-minute operation.
If you're moved by Bibiane's story, make a donation today. You can help us take surgical teams to remote places and help us train local eye doctors and nurses, giving them the tools they need to restore sight in their own communities.