Some days are very emotional because it is impossible to not get caught up in peoples’ hardships.
At the feeding center a woman named Edisa confronted Hal and begged for help. Her baby, Peresi, was blind and Edisa was desperate (in this culture, poor blind people may be sent off to the destitute camp – they are outcasts).
We saw that when a plate of food was placed beside Peresi, she had to feel for the plate and then carefully scoop a handful of rice and beans into her mouth. It tore at our hearts as she “stared” into space and cried out for Mama because she didn’t know her mother was sitting right beside her.
We talked to the local doctor who comes to the feeding center to check on the children (part of the Joy ministry) and he determined she had cataracts. We immediately emailed Brent, our KUMC medical team ophthamologist, and he said if Peresi was older than 12 months surgery would not help because the brain had never established a connection to the optic nerves. We were devastated to learn she was 15 months old – it seemed that it was too late for this precious little girl. Then Edisa mentioned Peresi had had sight for the first 7 months of her life. We had wrongly assumed she was blind from birth. We wrote to Brent again and he said that changed everything and surgery was an option. So we went from devastation to joy (and happy tears!) all in the same afternoon.
A couple of weeks later, we outfitted Edisa and Peresi with donated clothing for travel. They went with Venas (of the Joy staff) 90 miles to see an eye surgeon at the Regional Hospital in Kasulu. Although the doctor confirmed Peresi would be a candidate for cataract surgery, he was reluctant to perform it because of her age. So we began planning for Venas to take them by train to Dar es Salaam (a grueling 2-day trip) to a hospital that specializes in eye surgery. On departure day, we gathered together at the train station and prayed for God to give the travelers His protection on their journey and the doctors His guidance and discernment as they treated Peresi.
At first there were a couple of delays – Peresi had a rash on her face and then she developed flu-like symptoms. But after it all cleared up, through the grace of God, Peresi had the cataracts in both eyes removed. God’s guiding hand was with the surgeons and the operation was a complete success. And another blessing: because Peresi is a baby and impoverished, the hospital decided to waive all fees for surgery and medical treatment.
We met the bus from Dar es Salaam carrying Edisa and Peresi back to Kigoma (another 2-day trip). Edisa was surprised to see us and thrilled to be home with Peresi who is on the mend (it will take a few weeks for her eye muscles to strengthen and her sight to fully return). We drove them to their home where they were greeted joyously by two of Peresi’s brothers and lots of neighbors.
We are telling this story because God has provided us a steady stream of opportunities to serve – mostly children – and we want all of you to share in this important and, for us, unexpected ministry. If you had asked us a year ago what we would be doing at Joy in the Harvest, we never could have told you that God would have us ministering in this way. It’s beyond our wildest imaginations. What started with Sue in the pharmacy (Dawa) and Hal serving as a general runner during the KUMC medical clinic, then led to our assisting with the referral cases identified by the medical team, and now all of this. It is exciting to show you how we are using the support we have received for our mission, and we are profoundly grateful. What a true blessing! As we have said many times before – we have an awesome God. He shows us the way to serve Him every day.
Here is one last photo of Edisa’s and Peresi’s emotional return to the feeding center. Edisa took an active role in leading the praise and worship, something she had never done before. It was a wonderful day! Praise the Lord! Bwana asifiwe!
Provided by our Friends at Joy in the Harvest