Metuisela is one of the many people across the Pacific struggling with blindness and unable to work. For 20-long-years, he has had no vision in his left eye and a growing cataract in his right eye has slowly diminished him of all sight. A proud Fijian man and a gardener by profession, Metuisela prays he can be helped:
“I am still strong, I want to keep working. I need to provide for my family, but I can’t cut the trees. I hope an operation will help me”.
He lives with his wife and their youngest son, their home is surrounded by a vibrant garden, which is full of colour, but their house is small and with a leaking roof it provides little shelter,
“Please, I just want to see again, I have to work so I can build a new home, but I struggle to get to work. I have to take two buses and it takes me two hours.”
With no chance of regaining sight in his left eye, all of Metuisela’s hopes of being able to see again are reliant on an operation to remove the dense cataract in his right eye.
Finally, Metuisela’s prayers were answered. One of our doctors was able to perform sight-restoring surgery. When he arrived at the eye clinic, he was accompanied by his older sister, Lide, “I worry about him. Wherever he goes, I go. It’s difficult for me. I don’t like to leave him on the bus by himself. I worry he will fall down”.
When the time came to take off Metuisela’s bandage, he sat patiently, as the nurse gently peeled off his eye patch. Taking a moment to adjust, Metuisela looked straight at the eye chart ahead, pointed with excitement and said, “I can see that, I can read it!”, tears of joy rolled down his face, as the frustration of the past 20 years flowed away. His sister’s eyes filled with tears and she wept with relief.
With a big smile he took a diary out of his pocket and started to write, his sister looked at him with shock, “He hasn’t been able to write for years!”
Because of the generosity of our supporters, Metisuela is able to return to work and one day build the house he dreams of. But there are too many people living in remote, isolated villages across the Pacific who are struggling with blindness. We need ongoing support so we can reach more people and train more local eye doctors and nurses. As Fred once said:
“What we are doing is revolutionary…what we are doing is giving these people the chance to help themselves. We are giving them independence.”
It’s with this attitude the Pacific Eye Institute has seen 290 eye doctors and nurses graduate and return to their communities.
One day we will end avoidable blindness in the Pacific, but until then we’re not holding back.