Living in remote and rural areas can isolate some elderly Africans, leaving them vulnerable to health issues. When a caring relative can help them get to medical care, it can make a world of difference in their lives.
I met Simon Metei and his 89-year old father, Chebochok, in the town of Eldoret, Kenya. Simon had taken time off from his job at a carnation plantation to bring his father from his home in Ziwa, a village 40 km north, to see the ophthalmologists at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.
Chebochok had cataract surgery on his left eye the day before I met him, and had just been discharged from the hospital. He didn’t speak any English, but he smiled shyly at me while Simon translated for his father.
“My father never went to school, but he can count to 6,000. This old man – Baba mzee – worked for many years, keeping accounts for a cattle rancher. In 2002, he had his right eye operated on for cataract. That same year, his left eye started to fail. My father can see much more clearly today.”
Simon told Chebochok about Operation Eyesight, and how his surgery was sponsored by generous donors. The elder Metei smiled and nodded to me. Simon translated, “My father appreciates the work that you do. He’s very happy to meet you; he knows you’ve helped him.”
We talked for awhile longer, and Simon ended up giving me an impromptu Swahili language lesson. He was delighted when I was able to respond correctly.
On his father’s behalf, Simon told me, “Asante sana!” [Thank you very much] and with his prompting, I was able to reply, “Karibu sana!” [You’re welcome!]
On behalf of Operation Eyesight and our donors, you are very welcome!
Want to learn a few more Swahili words?
• Jambo: Hello
• Rafiki: friend
• Sawa sawa: okay; that’s great
• Tadfahali: please
• Macho: eyes
• Kidogo: a little
• Picha: photo
• Chakula tamu: good food
• Mzee: elderly person
• Baba mzee: old man
• Mama mzee: old woman
• Kwaheri: goodbye