Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
During the first two weeks of July, SEE held a special expedition with NBA Hall-of-Famer Dikembe Mutombo and the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation. The aim was to improve access to vision care in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). During this initial sight-restoring program, SEE provided 107 sight-restoring surgeries to blind patients in the DRC, which is one of the poorest countries in the world.
On July 4th, 2015, a 7-year old girl named Ngombo Mervediy was one of hundreds who arrived at the SEE clinic in Kinshasa. She had a cataract in her right eye since birth, and she hoped the clinic could help her to see clearly for the first time. Ngombo’s mother had passed away three years prior, so her aunt, Annette, brought her. It was not a moment too soon.
Her cataract was growing. While Ngombo is an eager student, she was struggling to keep up in the classroom. She couldn’t see the chalkboard or read her books. On the playground, Ngombo’s classmates teased her for her white eye. Despite these challenges, she has always loved to go to school and learn. She wants to be a minister when she grows up. She says she knows God hears her prayers.
For children with congenital vision problems, timely treatment is of great importance. If the eye is not sending clear images, the child’s brain will not develop fully, and the damage becomes irreversible. Ngombo was running out of time.
Fortunately, SEE ophthalmologist Dr. Helena Ndume was there to treat her, and the surgery was a success. Now Ngombo is back in school, where she can learn and play with her classmates. The lyrics of her favorite hymn are, “Jesus put me on your back. Jesus carry me.” In the meantime, she’s enjoying being a typical 7-year-old – giggling as she talks about her favorite TV show, Dora the Explorer.