I met Sister Cecilia Chematia last year at Kenya’s Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in the small city of Eldoret. (Read more about my visit to the hospital here.) Operation Eyesight and its donors have supported the hospital’s eye unit since 2005.
A 74-year old Roman Catholic nun from the Kaiboi convent, 50 km outside Eldoret, Sister Cecilia speaks English very well. She was booked into the hospital’s eye unit for bilateral cataract surgery on her left eye; and although she seemed very calm on the surface, she confided that she was worried about her upcoming surgery that morning. Her eyes, one with a misty blue-grey cataract clearly visible, were apprehensive.
“I was a teacher at the convent for a long time. I taught religious instruction. I do pastoral work these days in my old age, because I can’t see even with my glasses now. I’m hoping for the best with this surgery.”
I saw Sister Cecilia later that day after her operation. Her eye was covered with a bandage and she said it felt sore and swollen, but Dr. Isaac Wanjala assured her that when he removed the coverings in the morning, she should be able to see. He said she should return to the eye unit for a check-up the following month.
The next day, I visited a bandage-free Sister Cecilia again. When I asked her how her vision was, she smiled warmly and shook my hand. “I can see many things now. Even my watch is clear!” she said, holding up her arm with a plain wristwatch on it. “I was afraid, but now I’m all right. I can see again – thank you!”