Blog Submitted by Amna Al-Gallas, MD
Amna is a Staff Ophthalmologist on board the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital. Amna joined the crew in February 2010.
It was the last day of my one-week return visit to Niger as I went back to follow up our patients who were operated on there, almost two months before, during our first Flying Eye Hospital program ever in Niger. It was another hot long working day that was only made easy by the smile of grateful patients whom I have examined as they tried to express how happy they were with the results. By the end of the day, I was informed that there were no more patients waiting and that some patients could not show up because they lived far away. I started to collect my papers and equipment but my mind was busy, as if something was missing and I decided to wait and use the time to do some paper work. Few moments later, a child came running to me. She was wearing a beautiful pink dress and a big smile on her face. She handed me a plastic bag with ORBIS logo on it and uttered few words in local language which I couldn’t understand. She opened the bag, took out a pair of glasses and put them on, I then recognized the little angel right away, “It’s you, Bello!” I said, smiling back at her.
Her mother came afterwards, apologizing for being late and expressing how happy and enthusiastic her daughter was to come. Bello was a 7-year old girl from Niger who came to ORBIS through our rural outreach screening program in Libore. At that time she had opacities in both eyes which largely compromised her vision. She underwent a certain laser procedure, to remove the opacities, and she was given specific type of glasses to help improve her vision. I examined her and she was doing very well with good improvement of vision. Her mother said that since the procedure her daughter was doing better in school and had good grades. She also said that Bello was always wearing her glasses and taking good care of them. After I finished and gave the mother the necessary instructions, Bello gave me a big hug and walked away with her mother, waving goodbye with a great big smile.
I gathered my things and walked out. I looked back at the patients as they were heading home. I was tired, starving and thirsty but I was filled with joy, knowing that another ORBIS mission has succeeded. All the hard work of ORBIS team has paid off and transformed lives in Niger, such as Bello’s, and gave them a new future, a new tomorrow!
See Bello's story below in our Eye Report from Niger.