Interview and Photos by Geoff Oliver Bugbee
Geoff Oliver Bugbee is Visual Communications Consultant at ORBIS. He has worked in documentary and international development photography for over 15 years.
In partnership with Menelik II Referral Hospital and Gondar University Hospital, the Flying Eye Hospital returned for its fourth program in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - a 3 week program focusing on hands-on training in pediatric strabismus, cataract, anesthesiology, and ophthalmic nursing. This is a significant
visit for the ORBIS FEH as ORBIS established its first ever country office in Addis
Ababa, Ethiopia in 1999. The Flying Eye Hospital’s visit will reinforce the
continued efforts of ORBIS’s country office projects to improve the quality and
accessibility of eye care to the community through multi-year projects. To help kick off the program, Ethiopia’s long-distance marathon superstar and multiple Olympic gold medal winner, Haile Gebrselassie, came onboard the Flying Eye Hospital to observe surgery and well-wish pediatric strabismus patients.
What are your impressions of ORBIS having just observed their work on the Flying Eye Hospital?
“It’s amazing really, especially in a country like Ethiopia. There are a lot of things happening on this plane. I just saw a mother holding her small daughter just moments after she came out of surgery. How can I explain to you how happy that makes me feel? I am a father of four kids, so imagine what a mother feels when her child is able to be normal again.”
“And the teaching - our Ethiopian doctors - they are learning a lot in treatment and participating in surgeries. What I see here is sort of like that saying, ‘two birds with one stone.’ Doctors are learning, and at the same time, operating on our own people.”
What does eyesight mean to you?
“There is no question...eyes are the most sensitive parts of our body. Quite important..there is nothing more important than the eye. People always want to see things, and believe me, my top priority is through my eyes! I am donating my eyes...but not just yet, of course!"
What do you like most about the Flying Eye Hospital?
“These doctors onboard this plane are volunteers. Imagine what satisfaction they might have at the end of the day. What they do here, it’s just amazing.”