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Stories Of Hope

Posted on July 20, 2020

Farmer Paul from Madagascar, Can See Again

I want to train a cataract specialist to restore vision to people just like farmer Paul.

Our work training cataract specialists is life-changing.

Last year, HelpMeSee Medical Officer, Jean-Marie Andre, launched a training program to teach African ophthalmologists a newer, safer form of cataract surgery called, Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS). One of the trainees, Dr. Ando Mathieu, treated a patient Farmer Paul. Farmer Paul lives in a rural area, roughly 30 miles away from Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar.

This patient, Farmer Paul, is a 58-year-old farmer living in Madagascar with his wife and 16 children. His oldest child is in his 40s, and his youngest is a toddler. Farmer Paul grows rice, cassava and grains without the benefit of a tractor or plow. This farming is back-breaking, with only the use of a spade to assist him.

Farmer Paul and his children live in a hut constructed of wood, mud and thatched canvas. The simple shelter is without running water or electricity. His family and youngest toddler use the river for bathing. When Farmer Paul couldn’t see, the older children fed and cared for the family. They were helpful to their father. Still, things were difficult. 

Working his land by hand was made even more intolerable by Farmer Paul’s devastating vision loss caused by bilateral cataracts. Because of his blindness, Farmer Paul could no longer care for his family. He ran into objects and fell often. He desperately depended on his wife and children to save him from serious harm. The back-breaking work of using only a spade to dig his soil become impossible to perform. Living conditions were deplorable.

After completing the HelpMeSee course, Dr. Mathieu removed Farmer Paul’s blinding cataracts through the MSICS procedure he learned. Without this innovative training, Farmer Paul and his wife could not return to their livelihood of growing their crops to feed their family and experience the joy of raising their youngest toddler. Thanks to the surgical expertise acquired by Dr. Mathieu, Farmer Paul and his family now have the life-changing opportunity to build a better existence for themselves. Donors like you make all this a beautiful reality.

But, the story does not end there.

There are many other Farmer Pauls in Madagascar, the rest of Africa and across the world. There are over 60 million more most of them from the developing world. While we could be raising funds to treat these unfortunate people, HelpMeSee chose a sustainable approach, fixing the root of the problem, the shortage of cataract surgeons. What good will funds for surgeries do if there is not a doctor available to treat the cataract blind?

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