Clinic Blog: 2011 South Africa 2 Clinic Blog
October 23, 2011
More Stories from Mtubatuba
Clinic team members have been busy working with the people from Mtubatuba and have had 4 clinic days so far. Each team member has stories that they will keep with them for the rest of their lives. Here are more of those stories.
Teresa Benson, OneSight Accountant, Cincinnati, Ohio
Sawubona from Mtubatuba, South Africa! My favorite part of the clinic so far, has been interacting with the patients as they come through to see the doctors at the IMS station. I was nervous at first about using the few Zulu words that I knew. I’m sure I wasn’t pronouncing “sit here” correctly, because the patients would either be confused or giggle at me. However, there was a teenaged girl who came through the line that day, who greeted me in English. We had a short conversation, which really meant a lot to me and made me feel more at ease. As she walked away to see the doctors, it struck me that I needed to give that gift back to the patients: speaking to them in their own language. I can’t say very many words, but I’m trying. I asked a group of grade school students to teach me how to say “please.” The word in Zulu has a “click” in the middle of it, so it’s very different from English. My attempts apparently were totally wrong and hilarious…hopefully I didn’t actually say something offensive! It was fun to laugh with the kids. Thanks to my wonderful family and friends for their support as I’m here, half way around the world. I couldn’t do it without you! Lots of love, and I’ll see you soon!
Dipti Patel, Sunglass Hut, Solihull, England
Whilst in clinic on Friday on our second location, from the moment I saw the location it was the most emotional experience I have felt being here. It bought me to tears to think the children had to go to school in there conditions. The second emotional moment was when a little old lady came to me in dispense, reminded me off my grandmother who sadly passed away not long before I came to clinic. The hurt I feel especially for these children and what they go through every day brings me to tears. I feel so privileged to be here and thank the people of mtubatuba for sharing their lives with us for these two weeks.
Melanie Parkes, OPSM, New Zealand
I am so privileged and blessed to have had the opportunity to come to Mtubatuba with OneSight. The people of Zulu-Natal are truly amazing. The community is poor but so rich in culture and emotion it would be hard not to be moved by them. I have had the chance to be on dispense station 4 days and the stories I have to share are numerous. One lady stands out from Friday, she came to me stating in Zulu “I cannot see, I cannot see”, I then placed her new glasses on her, she started crying out again this time with a smile on her face. When I asked what she was saying my translator replied, she says “I can see, I can see” She was so happy she almost ran from the room to tell everyone before I could even give her a case for her new glasses. The amount of hugs and gratitude from the people is endless, the amazing volunteers we work with are tireless in what they do, I would be lost without them. I thank god that OneSight brought us all here. I will come home humbled and changed from this experience, with a whole new group of lifelong friends.
Dr. Brendan Philps, Australia
I’ve been practicing optometry now for almost 14 years. I’ve always been proud of what I do and have always believed that I can make an enormous difference in people’s lives. With OneSight it appears that I get the chance to make this difference continually throughout each and every day. Today was the 2nd day of my mission in Mtubatuba in South Africa and I must have seen at least 6 people with glaucoma today, who without treatment would have slowly gone blind without knowing, until it was too late. But today of all the people I had the honour of helping, one lady in particular stood out.
This lady was only 28 years old, healthy, and her only complaint was a recent deterioration in her reading vision. But when I looked into the back of her eyes, I saw that both of her optic nerve heads were extremely swollen and bleeding. This means that the pressure inside her head is a lot higher than normal which is likely caused by a brain tumour. She was not experiencing headaches, so it is very unlikely that this problem would have been detected if we were not here and I didn’t get the chance to examine her eyes. …..Today with OneSight, I probably saved this lady’s life by a simple eye test that I have done countless times over the past 14 years. An eye test that you and I take for granted and which in my country Australia is paid for by the government and is easily accessible at numerous optical outlets. This was a very emotional experience for me in such poor surroundings as it made me brutally aware that there are countless people like her in this world who will not be so lucky and receive the medical attention that you and I take for granted. I am not ashamed to say that I have tears running down my face as I recount this story for you Today was a truly amazing day in my life and one that I will never forget. Thank you, OneSight for giving me this opportunity.