Isaac Owusu Baffoe, our Program Coordinator in Ghana, shared this heartwarming story with us. Thank you, Isaac!
Last summer, I visited St. Theresa’s Hospital in Nandom, one of our three partner hospitals in the Upper West Region of Ghana. During my visit, I met a man whose life has been transformed through the generosity of our donors. His name is Bunu-Nye, and I will never forget him.
Bunu-Nye is 74 years old and lives in a village about 35 km from Nandom. He told me about his horrific journey through what he vividly described as “the dark kingdom of the blind” into “the kingdom of light.”
Like most people in the Nandom district, Bunu-Nye is a farmer. About three years ago, he noticed his vision was starting to blur; images became fuzzy and bright lights brought him a lot of glare, making it difficult for him to do his farm work. “I thought it wasn’t anything serious, so I believed it would go away,” he explained.
In this region of Ghana, most people refuse to seek health care at first, even when urged by a health worker to seek appropriate care. They believe that their sickness will go away by itself, only to find themselves rushing to a health facility when their condition gets out of hand. Often times, it’s too late.
When Bunu-Nye’s vision went from bad to worse, he tried traditional medication, a concoction of roots and herbs that his father taught him how to make. Bunu-Nye diligently washed his face and eyes with this concoction every day, but to his dismay, his vision continued to deteriorate.
Just as the 2015 farming season was about to begin, Bunu-Nye went completely blind. He could no longer grow his own crops and had no choice but to give his farm land to others to cultivate. He knew that without crops to harvest and sell, his family – including eight grown children – would suffer a great economic setback in the coming years. His wife managed to take care of them with the little money she made from her groundnut farm, but they couldn’t live off her meager income for long.
Bunu-Nye’s dignity diminished even further. Soon, he couldn’t even visit the toilet without assistance from others. “People don’t understand, but to a man of my calibre, having to be led by others before I could do such a private thing was very shameful,” he said. “There were even several times I contemplated suicide, but I didn’t know how to carry it out since I couldn’t see.”
Can you imagine? For Bunu-Nye, being blind was worse than being dead! Thankfully, through the generosity of our donors, he says he has been “born again.”
Bunu-Nye first visited the eye clinic at St. Theresa’s Hospital in October 2015. By then, he could just barely detect hand movements in front of his eyes. He was diagnosed with bilateral cataract and scheduled in for surgery. Now, all he had to do was wait for the regional ophthalmologist to visit Nandom; hope was in sight!
Sadly, in February, just a few weeks before his scheduled surgery, Bunu-Nye suffered another terrible loss. His wife, the person he had relied on for everything, passed away unexpectedly.
“I couldn’t even see her body,” he says sadly. “I believe she died because I was blind, otherwise I would have been able to take care of her.”
Poor Bunu-Nye had lost his vision, his farm and his closest companion. Next, he had to move in with one of his sons, losing his home and his last bit of independence. Fortunately for Bunu-Nye, things were about to get better…
The following month, he received surgery on his right eye, and shortly after, his left eye was operated on – all at no cost to him or his family. Although it breaks his heart that he will never see his beloved wife again, he is glad that his vision has been restored – and his family and friends are very happy for him, too.
Now that he can see, Bunu-Nye hopes to negotiate to get his land back so he can grow his own crops and earn an income again next farming season.
“I believe I would be dead by now if I had not had my sight restored,” he said. “I thank you for your support that has made it possible for me to see again. May God bless you so that you will be able to continue to help people like me to come back to life!”
Isaac was honoured to accept Bunu-Nye’s thanks on our donors’ behalf, and says he will never forget this heart-wrenching story. As Isaac says, “I am so grateful to all of our donors for transforming Bunu-Nye’s life and giving him hope for a better future. I truly hope you will consider giving the gift of sight to more people like him this this holiday season. Thank you!”