OSHAKATI - After overseeing and restoring the eyesight of thousands of Namibians, Dr Helena Ndume and her team will be going on a hiatus until next year.
The ophthalmologist said this eye-restoration project is close to her heart.
“Nothing makes me happier than seeing people with healthy eyes and we will continue next year as we strive to target many pensioners especially in remote areas,” she said. The humanitarian heads the Namibian National Blindness Prevention Programme and to date, she and her team have performed approximately 41 000 sight-restoring eye surgeries.
Last week, an eye restoration campaign concluded at the Oshakati State Hospital and more than 1 000 people underwent successful eye operations. Sixty-year-old Saara Simon from Ohadiwa in the Ohangwena region was part of the beneficiaries. She said she will now be able to count her pension money and can no longer be robbed by her grandchildren among other advantages that came with being able to see again.
“When I am in church, I use to feel sad when the pastor directs parishioners to sing the hymns; I was unable to see but now I can see,” said Simon.
Likius Ruben (91) could also not contain his joy after he spent four years without seeing properly.
“When nature calls, it would be embarrassing when you have to ask people for assistance but now that my eyes have been fixed, I am a human again and can do things on my own,” said the excited Ruben.
He added: “I wholeheartedly thank our local and international doctors who came to restore our eyesight. We travelled long distances from various regions in the country in order to have our vision restored. Thank you and may these doctors be blessed.” This eye campaign started early this year at Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi region and proceeded to various other regions with local and international doctors.
Dr Ernest van der Merwe, who replaced the now-retired Ndume as the State’s head of the ophthalmology department in 2021, said this year’s campaign went well and they managed to restore sight for many people. However, some of the challenges such as the lack of medication in the hospitals continue to be an obstacle in treating patients, but he gave the assurance that next year, they will have enough medication.