Doctors For Life International (DFL), in partnership with Medical Mission International (MMI), assisted Angolans with free medical care in 2008. The main goal was to cure blindness through cataract surgery.
The campaign was in an area in the south of Angola, where cataract surgery have not been performed for as much as 3 decades due to the civil war (ended in 2002). Most of patients DFL operated on, had bilateral blindness (blind in both eyes) for many years.
Their reactions to being able to see again was filled with emotional; mixed with shock and pure joy! The their sometimes animated reactions were priceless. Hit the “like button” if you enjoyed watching them see again. In addition to surgery DFL also provided dental procedures and general medical treatment to over a thousand people during this 2008 outreach. DFL have completed approximately 9 similar medical campaigns in various regions in Angola alone since 2003.
Other countries where DFL assist medically include (but are not limited to) Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana and South Africa. Consider supporting our work by contributing to these campaigns.
We are so thankful to report that we just finished two successful medical outreaches in Malawi. Herewith just some brief feedback; The Doctors For Life International (DFL) teams camped at both places and each area offered its own challenges. The first outreach was near Mangochi (at the southern tip of lake Malawi). At first it was a challenge getting enough patients but the local tribal chiefs were very supportive and even brought patients to us! In total we saw about 725 eye patients. We did about 34 eye surgeries (cataract, trachoma and even cancer removals), treated 220 with eye drops and 267 received free reading and distance eye glasses. Dr Theunis Botha was the eye specialist and Miss Sandra Grunewald the ophthalmic nurse. Mrs Angelika Bohmer was the general nurse and microbiologist Mr Pieter Bos assisted with sterilization. Local Malawi medical staff also assisted. The school grounds where the team had to camp were especially open for health education sessions. Hundreds of children surrounded our campsite! The second area where we worked was more to the south in the Phalombe district, Mambala, on the eastern border of Malawi and Mozambique.
We worked there last year as well. The local Member of Parliament, the honourable MP Dennis Phiri gives us his full support in this remote and needy area. Dr Bruce Philips was the eye specialist and he was joined by his wife Nikki who assists him in his private practice. Miss Grunewald stayed on for the 2nd outreach as well, working with Dr Philips in the theatre. A total of 38 surgeries were performed under challenging conditions. Mr Bekanese, a Malawian ophthalmic technician also assisted at times. It was very hot and the temperature outside reached 40 degrees Celcius at times.
We mostly did cataract surgery at the second place but in addition to the eye work the second team was also joined by dentist Dr Herbert de Graaf who pulled 345 teeth in one week! He also screened about 317dental patients. On the final evening the dental team worked until 11pm and even Dr Philips helped some dental patients with sutures after he was finished with the eye operations. About 200 patients received eye glasses and about 100 were helped with eye drops and medication. The community was extremely thankful and open to DFL’s help in the region. The medical work also opened new doors for sharing the love of Christ in these needy regions. Devotions were held before the start of the clinics each day and was received with open arms. Many children also attended the meetings at the schools where the teams camped. Lastly, we are making plans to move a specially designed mobile clinic to Malawi to start our second permanent clinic (our first one was started in Zavora Mozambique back in 2003). We plan to use the mobile clinic in Malawi, a large 4 ton unit pulled by a truck that was donated by medical Mission International, until we obtain sufficient funds to construct a building there also. We have been allocated land in a remote area called Chikuluma, near the Lewonde National Park. Our first step is to register DFL in Malawi and the process is underway. We are not sure how long this will take but we hope it won’t take too long!
Thank you to all who joined hands with us with on this Malawi medical outreach. Your contribution made a huge difference to the lives of the many people who can see again and the positive influence it has on whole communities.
During July 2014 Doctors for Life had the opportunity to go to Malawi for a very successful and blessed outreach. We were able to do 129 cataract operations and an total of 562 glasses were handed out, as well as 62 protective sunglasses to patients after cataract operations were performed.
Many wonderful testimonies were received by the patients. The joy they expressed for being able to see again after being blind for so long, is evident in the following testimonies:
“I am so thankful to God and Doctors for Life to make me see again. I will be able to do all my domestic chores on my own now.” – Ellena Nankani
“I am very, very happy and smile all day. I will now be able to cook for myself and do whatever I could not do for a long time now. Many thanks to God and Doctors for Life for visiting this area and to bring back my sight.” – Alisinet Likhomo
“I am very happy. I was not able to tend to my garden anymore myself. Now that I am able to see again I will be able to do that. I thank God and Doctors for Life for healing me.” – Kenson Gwetsani
“I am so happy to be able to read again. Now I can read my Bible and learn more about God. Thank you very much to God and Doctors for Live for coming to us and helping us.” – Chola Nchome
“I dropped out of school many years ago because of bad eyesight. Now that I have received these glasses and can see well again. I want to go back to school and finish my education.” – Mary Chidi (72 years old)
[caption id="attachment_1549" align="alignright" width="145"] After the operation[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1551" align="alignright" width="145"] Eye patches removed[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1550" align="alignright" width="145"] Sunglasses[/caption]]]>
It is a privilege for Doctors for Life to report back on a very blessed medical outreach to Mozambique at the end of March, 2014. Not only were we able to perform ±92 cataract operations in the hospital at Inhambane (the Capital of the Inhambane Province in Mozambique), but we were also accompanied by two medical doctors, and were able to assist many patients at the Zavora clinic with general medical problems.]]>
Dieter Bohmer sharing the broad and narrow way[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_755" align="alignright" width="300"] Dieter Bohmer sharing the broad and narrow way[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_774" align="alignright" width="300"] A patient is interviewed[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_883" align="alignright" width="300"] George Ocehse sharing the Gospel[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_895" align="alignright" width="300"] People gathering for the film Friday Evening[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_960" align="alignright" width="300"] Youth of St Andrew Anglican Church[/caption]
By late Saturday, 30 June we arrived at St Andrews Hospital, Malawi Midlands.
During 28 and 29 we had many cataract operations and outreaches during the afternoon, and closed the day showing Christian Films. One of the patients we helped was the founder of Neighbour Mission. His photo is attached. On Friday afternoon we visited the area where we showed the film about a young African Muslim that converts to Christianity through various dreams (from the series More than Dreams). Uncle George had an impromptu service close to the Church which we were visiting. The Lord was very gracious and many came for counseling after the film. In Salima there are many Muslims.
The film also touched many and a few gave their lives to the Lord Jesus. The Lord is very gracious. Early on Saturday, we realized we were robbed during the night. The thieves stole a few items such as a laptop from the Neighbor Mission, one mobile phone, etc. The worst for us was Dr Jac Potgieter. They took a bag with all his documents, money, Passport etc. He had to fly on Sunday so we contacted our Head Office and Johan obtained the number of the RSA consulate in Lilongwe. The lady told Johan that they could only help on Monday. Jac contacted the lady from Malawi and after prayer and a Police visit to our camp site she promised us that he would be issued with traveling documents. The thieves also took sister Kitty Ghampsi’s hand bag but dropped her passport not far from the camp. What can we say? A few trials but many blessings! Can we experience the Lord’s special grace without trials? We appreciate our prayer partners so much. Please let uncle Waldemar and others know about the Lord’s faithfulness.
This morning we were invited to take the service at the local St Andrew Anglican Church which was very well attended. The team was also introduced to the congregation.
Our dentist, Dr Ferreira and his wife Gisela took Jac to the airport (the consulate even organized a place for Jac to sleep). Now, on Sunday afternoon they picked up the rest of the team that flew from London and RSA. Herman started operating this afternoon.
Please keep praying that the Lord in his grace will conquer the darkness with His precious Light.
From the DFL Malawi medical team
“Today we removed the eye covers of those who had operations. There was much joy and Mr Mario Rocha interviewed some of the patients. A little later in the morning Mr Rocha (representing DFL) was interviewed at a local government office. The message was broadcast 4 times yesterday and today, and twice on Friday. We are considering working till midday on Saturday and then moving to our next destination.”]]>
The DFL medical support team departed from Pretoria at about 7:00 pm on Thursday evening. They arrived at the Zimbabwe border at about 2:00 am in the morning. Although, according to the border officials, two of the vehicle’s documents were not in order, they were finally allowed to proceed to Harare. They were stopped at various road blocks and because the police found fault with the vehicles, some small fines had to be paid.
Mario Rocha – volunteer
After an interesting drive through Harare the team arrived at the Highlands Presbyterian Church by 6:00 pm on 22 June. They basically drove for 24 hours and some of the drivers did not sleep at all.
After a light meal in the evening, everybody retired early to get some rest. The next day they left for the Malawi border. The goal was to arrive at Salima, Malawi, that the same day.
“Driving through Malawi was an experience, especially at night. We had a few narrow escapes and it was obvious that the Lord kept us. At one stage we were behind a big truck and there was a stationary truck on the other side of the road. Suddenly another huge truck came from the opposite direction and probably did not realise that the other truck was not moving.
The second truck came with a terrible speed and moved over to our lane to avoid a collision with the stationary truck. In the process it missed us by centimetres. In fact we could not understand how the truck could have missed us. There were these three huge trucks and us right in the middle of them on this narrow road. Oom Volkmar had to swerve quite a bit to avoid colliding with the oncoming truck. It was grace that we did not leave the road or even roll the truck.”
The team arrived about 23h00 at Salima where they are staying at a neighbouring mission in tents. The people there really put in a lot of effort to prepare for the medical team’s arrival and the outreach. The team were all very tired after two days of continuous driving. After pitching their tents etc, they went to sleep after midnight.
On Sunday Pieter Bos left for the airport to fetch Dr Jacques Potgieter, Nick Ashton (MESF) and his colleagues Paul and Daisy. Unfortunately some of their luggage containing medicines did not arrive with them.
The team tried to arrange a meeting with the officials today but it was not possible. They were going to meet them on Monday morning at 8am to plan the work. Eye surgery has however been delayed and would have only started on Monday night]]>
The 1st outreach in Western Zambia, Kalobolelwa has come to an end. In total we prescribed 75 eye glasses, saw 112 dental patients, did 440 GP treatments, saw about a 100 other eye patients, 32 surgeries. Pathology in this area was incredible: gangrene, leprosy, broken leg, many malaria cases, HIV, 6 fingers on 1 hand, accidents, trachoma, cancers, weird growths etc. On our way to next area Sinjimbela on the border of Angola. Its even more remote.]]>
Two weeks from now we hope to be on our way! The apparently unavoidable last minute rush is starting as I am writing this. No matter how early you start, there will always be the last minute emergencies. Will we be able to get all the necessary documents in time? The medications and surgical supplies have to be picked up, the food supplies to be purchased etc. etc. The worst of all: Did we remember everything? We have done it lots of times before, but still there is this thing …
A road team of about 9 people plans to leave from Pretoria on April 11. We’ll travel in three vehicles including the MAN truck with the mobile theatre on its back. First overnight stop is Francistown in Botswana, second Katima Mulilo in Namibia. The next day we’ll pick up the two ophthalmologists at Livingstonia Airport in Zambia on our way towards Sioma in the Western Province. Crossing the borders is still a bit of a nightmare with all our supplies, but as the staff at the borders get to know us they seem to become less suspicious.
We hope to set everything up for the work at Sioma as soon as we arrive so that we can start screening and selecting patients on Sunday already. There are so many causes of blindness, and not everyone will benefit from an operation. It is nice to be able to help many of them, but it breaks your heart every time to see those whom we unfortunately cannot help. We are very glad to have two ophthalmologists who can take turns inside the theatre and outside. This should save a lot of time. We hope to perform lid procedures, cataract operations and other surgeries while our dentist and the GPs will help the other patients with their respective needs.
We are looking forward to see our Zambian support team again with whom we have become good friends by now. They will help again with translating as well as other tasks. We greatly rely on them for identifying the areas we go to, notifying the people about our coming and other preparations in various ways. Sometimes they even put up “road signs” against trees or write them on the road so that we can find our destination. You see, we like going into the very rural areas, where hardly any services (or road signs) are available.
From 16 to 20 April we plan to work at Sioma. Then the first team of ophthalmologists have to return to South Africa while the second team arrives again at Livingstonia. The other team members break up camp, pack everything and travel to Sinjembela, where we’ll be working the next week. Afterwards we’ll enjoy a rest day at Katima on the banks of the Zambesi River before returning to Pretoria on May 1. We are looking forward to another opportunity to reach some of the poorest of the poor to help them in their need!]]>
The medical and eye surgery outreach to Cuito Cuanavale and Mavinga was probably one of the toughest ones DFL undertook thus far. The people in Mavinga are very isolated and the need for medical care is great. The approximately 200km took some of the team members almost 3 days due to trees that had to be cut down, and a puncture on one of the tyre. The 200km od trip between Cuito Cuanavale that we thought would take a full day, took the truck with surgery unit almost 3 days. We got stuck, flat tyres on the surgery unit truck, trees falling on the truck cab etc. Two people in the team were treated for malaria while being in Mavinga and the trip back was just as challenging.
But going to these areas was worth it. The team of doctors, medical staff and volunteers were able to help hundreds of needy people. In return the patients often expressed their joy and thankfulness often in very illustrative ways. In total we did about 72 surgeries of which most were to treat or prevent blindness. These were mostly cataract and trachoma cases. We also gave out hundreds of prescription glasses and treated and screened many hundreds more for things like epilepsy, malaria, leprosy, abscesses etc etc. We also treated many for Trachoma (with Azythromycion) that is mostly linked to areas that have a lack of hygiene. We also assisted the people with dental extractions. We look back at our time in Mavinga and Cuito with thankfulness, that we returned safely and that we had the privilege to go to those remote areas regardless of the challenges.]]>