Henri Samoutou – Co-Founder

Despite given the surname which means “no-hope” (because ten of his eleven siblings died), Mr. Samoutou, joint-winner of the international Excellence in Ophthalmology Vision Award (2012) with Dr. Samoutou-Wong, gives hope every day by restoring sight. Born in a village in the Gabonese rainforest, against all odds, he was fully funded by American missionaries and studied at Bongolo Nursing School. In 2001, he won a full scholarship from Christian Blind Mission to study at the Training Centre for Ophthalmology for Central Africa in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. There he learnt eye surgery under Dr. Adrian Hopkins MBE, renowned ophthalmologist and director for the Mectizan Donation Program that is responsible for Onchocerciasis being on the verge of eradication. Thereafter, Mr. Samoutou chose to use his surgical skills to serve in non-profit hospitals and Mercy Ship, the world’s largest civilian floating hospital. In 2004, he won a full scholarship for a 2-year Diploma in Biblical studies at Hope City College, UK (now Leadership Academy). In the same year, he married Dr. Samoutou-Wong and together, they started preparing for a life of service in Africa.

In 2006, Joyce and Henri relocated from the UK to develop a non-profit eye centre in a missionary hospital in the rainforest of Gabon. The eye centre has since become self-sufficient and continues to help around 6000 patients a year. In 2012, the couple founded New Sight Eye Care, and together with their three young children, moved to northern Republic of Congo to pioneer its first non-profit eye centre with surgery. New Sight provides full non-profit eye services including consultations, glasses, medical and surgical treatments, as well as free screening and community eye education in the villages. New Sight also empowers the local community by training nurses and support staff. In 2016, at the invitation of the local authorities, they embarked on plans to build a dedicated eye hospital in Ouesso, Congo, on a 6-hectare area. In 2019, they moved to Ouesso and established their second eye centre in Congo. Since then, they have started the country’s first facility to manufacture prescription glasses locally, as well as started the first children’s magazine. Construction of the hospital began in 2022 and the eye block is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

Joyce and Henri are passionate about transforming lives by giving the priceless gift of sight. They are also passionate about empowering children locally and internationally through their work with over 30 schools in Congo, as well as the Project Two Front Teeth, which they founded with their children. The meaningful work of Joyce and Henri has been featured in the BBC and South China Morning Post, and was the subject of a documentary series by Hong Kong’s Cable TV. In 2017, the Samoutous were invited to the Forbes Philanthropy Summit in New York.

Speaker profile

Joyce and Henri Samoutou (PDF format)