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Thought Leader Uncategorized Global Health

Eyes Wide Open in Burundi

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Beth Hodges, Senior Marketing Specialist, MAP International

It’s every parent’s nightmare. Your child is sick and you’re powerless to help them.

This was the case for the parents of seven-year-old, Keza from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Keza had developed premature cataracts which unknowingly robbed her of her eyesight. What started as infrequent headaches and sensitivity to light progressed to cloudy vision and near complete blindness. She was unable to attend school because of her inability to see the chalkboard or clearly read books. Not knowing what would happen to their precious child, Keza’s parents were experiencing their worst fears – who would help them?

When you think about it, eye problems in the US rarely get this serious. Parents whisk their children to local pediatricians and specialists within days of serious symptoms. And, there is a ready supply of medicines and health supplies to help them heal.

The DRC was once renowned in Africa for its network of clinics, quality of physicians, and primary health care system. In the past three decades, however, the political and economic collapse of the country have had a dramatic impact on this network. Hospitals and clinics lack personnel and equipment and often run out of critical medicine and supplies. An estimated 70 percent of Congolese have little or no access to health care.*

These were the conditions facing Keza. Poor, and with limited resources, Keza’s mother was desperate for help. She would do anything for her child. With no medical options in East Congo, they traveled hundreds of miles to Kibuye Hope Hospital in Burundi. She had heard of doctors who might be able to help Keza.

When Keza and her mother arrived, they met Dr. John Cropsey, a medical missionary from Michigan who brought with him medical supplies from MAP International:

“The clinic staff quickly diagnosed her problem as cataracts. That same week she underwent bilateral cataract surgery. The following day she was ecstatic. She could see again! Her mother was so happy,” said Dr. Cropsey,

“Keza is one of the thousands we help each year at Kibuye in the eye clinic. With the help of MAP, we can provide high-quality services to tens of thousands of patients each year…”

Fortunately for Keza, medicines and health supplies from MAP saved not only her vision but her life. It was God’s grace, the talent of countless medical missionaries, and the generous support of MAP International that allows Keza to see today. She’s been spared a life of blindness.

*USAid Global Health Report: Democratic Republic of Congo

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