Dr. Helena Ndume

June 2015 | Patient Stories, Stories from the field

By Kate Bryant

Former Vice President of Development

Dr. Helena Ndume is a Namibian ophthalmologist who is internationally renowned for her humanitarian work. To date, she has performed sight-restoring surgeries upon 35,000 Namibians, completely free of charge. 

“There’s no money in this world that can pay the joy of someone who was so blind for so many years and then suddenly they regain their vision,” she says.

Dr. Ndume’s motivation to serve those less fortunate than her stems from the civil unrest that she witnessed as a child. Forced to flee her homeland at the age of 15, Helena lived in Zambia, Gambia (where she completed secondary school), and Angola, before attending medical school in Germany. She joined SEE International’s roster of over 600 volunteer eye surgeons in 1995.

There’s no money in this world that can pay for the joy of someone who was blind and then suddenly they regain their vision

Dr. Helena Ndume

Since then, Dr. Ndume has dedicated her life and career to treating blindness and low-vision, both in Namibia and throughout the developing world. Many of her patients in the capital city of Windhoek have taken to calling her “Namibia’s miracle doctor.” In 2004, she was awarded Grand Commander of the Order of Namibia, First Class. In 2011, CNN produced a piece on her work.

“She is inexhaustible,” says Dr. Michael Colvard of SEE. “She is an incredible physician, very capable but also able to motivate people and she’s been able to get the government of Namibia to support her and her colleagues.”

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