Light in the darkness
New Sight News – June 2020
Our April newsletter updated you on how we are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Congo. Let us tell you what else has been happening, and the many things we hope can resume one day soon.
The year so far
People’s lives are being touched and changed because of your support for New Sight. In the first quarter, we had 567 consultations through our interim eye clinic in Ouesso, treating conditions that include cataracts and allergic conjunctivitis. Our service is so sought after that patients are travelling from as far as Brazzaville (a 14-hour bus journey away) seeking help.
Seeing the world for the first time
Just before COVID-19 reached Congo, Henri visited the eye clinic at Pioneer Christian Hospital in Impfondo to see patients and operate. One of them was an 8-year-old boy called Iram, who was born blind. His parents tried traditional healers to no avail and were afraid of seeking medical help. They finally brought Iram to the eye clinic, where Henri diagnosed him with cataracts and explained to the family how surgery would help. Both of Iram’s eyes were operated on and he could see for the first time in his life! His parents were overjoyed. Life has changed completely for Iram since his surgery. He used to be quiet and sat in the corner, now he can’t stop playing and excitedly giving a running commentary about everything that he can see.
Annual Report 2019 – 2020
You can read New Sight’s latest annual report here and celebrate all that we have accomplished together.
Nurses in training
Our first introductory nursing course finished in November, with 100% of students rating the course as either “Excellent” or “Very Good”. We invited 9 of the students to take our one-year training course in January. The aim of the course is to give them the skills to become the future staff of the Ouesso Eye Hospital, so we started with classes on basic nursing, IT, administration, and spiritual development. The Department of Health generously gave us the free use of a room next to our clinic as a classroom. Before lockdown of Ouesso began, our students wrote and recorded a song on preventing COVID-19, which has been a viral success and helped educate the community. During lockdown, the nursing course had to be suspended and the room became a COVID-19 response centre. Our course resumed in late June when restrictions were lifted. The Catholic School is kindly lending us a classroom until September since they have no classes until then. What a blessing!
The Ouesso Pioneers were sad to say goodbye to Jean Pierre and Ginny Vandevoorde in December as their 6-month service came to an end. We thank them for their faithful service, wisdom and friendship. In March, our lovely Targett family completed their 1-year service and returned to the UK on the last day before Congo shut all the borders and airports due to COVID-19. Thank God for travelling mercies! Annabel and Doug, Hannah, Samuel and Sophie, we thank you for your faith, courage and sense of humour through the whole year. To our delight, Annabel has agreed to join New Sight in the UK and continuing to work with us!
Outside of our clinic work, as a team we have been making connections and seeking to serve our community in other ways. At Christmas we brought food and other supplies to the prison, inpatients at the local hospital, and the Catholic mission where they care for elderly and young families in need.
When the COVID-19 outbreak hit Congo, we were in a unique position to help with medical expertise and provide supplies. Joyce was invited by the Prefect and the Director of Health to join the committee leading the response in the La Sangha region. Our amazing supporters – you all – have so far raised HKD630,000 for our COVID-19 appeal which has enabled us to provide cloth masks, soap, disinfectant, buckets, and toilet paper for the community. We also received a generous in-kind donation of 20,000 reusable masks, making the givings we received from you exceed HKD1 million.
We know that there are so many needs here and we are privileged to be doing our little bit. The more we get to know the community, the more we can see that establishing the New Sight Eye Hospital will bring so much hope here.
In January we were blessed to welcome Fanny and Reynold Hung from Hong Kong and Ela Osuchowski from the UK whose visits brought much joy to our team. They encouraged the team and the missionary kids. They brought external teaching that was valuable to our nursing students. Thank you so much, all you gave is so appreciated! We have had to sadly postpone some much-anticipated short-term mission trips for now and are comforting ourselves that good things come to those who wait!
Learning from the jungle
What has Joyce learnt in her years as a homeschool teacher in Congo? In February, Joyce was honoured to be given the opportunity to write an article for Sassy Mama. Read it online : https://www.sassymamahk.com/tips-parents-coping-with-school-closures-learn-parenting
When Congo went into lockdown on 31 March, we were limited to treating emergency cases and supporting our long-term patients. As the restrictions start to ease, we are pleased to gradually increase our much-needed services as we put into place measures to protect our patients and staff. We are also busy preparing to safely reopen the nurse training school. We will continue to help both the local health services and community to cope with the challenging situation.
The hospital construction is put on hold while everyone focusses on the current crisis and complies with the related restrictions. We hope to be moving that forward as soon as possible.
All over the world, so many people are hurting and struggling right now in so many ways. We are so grateful and humbled that with your faithful support, we can bring hope and light, relief and comfort, in this corner of the world where the needs have become more desperate than ever before. Thank you so much! We continue to thank God for you, and we are praying for you.