Jack, 26 years old from Papua New Guinea, is no stranger to adversity.
When he was younger, tribal fighting broke out in the province he was living in. Two of his brothers were killed, and he was hit in the face, causing injury to his right eye. Unable to visit an eye doctor, the wounds scarred, and he lost vision in that eye.
Forced to flee his land and home, Jack and his family rebuilt their lives in a new province, where he and his father bought and sold products, and did odd jobs to earn a living.
In 2018, Jack got married and soon after, his wife told him she was pregnant. He felt blessed and looked forward to watching his child grow up. But during his wife’s pregnancy, Jack’s noticed his vision clouding over in his other eye. Soon Jack was completely blind. A cataract in his left eye had wiped away his only chance to see his newborn son.
Unable to see, Jack was no longer able to work and provide for his newborn son. He couldn’t leave the house without assistance and no longer wanted to socialise with friends. His friends and community members started treating him differently. Jack’s spirit was broken and all he could do was dream of getting his vision back so he could finally see his little boy. But, with barely enough money to pay for his basic needs, eye surgery seemed impossible. He became depressed, withdrawn and felt hopeless.
This all changed when a community outreach worker from a project supported by CBM Australia came to Jack’s village and assessed his eyesight. They told him he had a cataract in his left eye and to visit CBM’s partner at one of their outreach eye clinics.
And so, he did.
At the outreach clinic, Jack underwent cataract surgery, with CBM covering most of the costs. He stayed at the clinic that night, and the next morning, his eye bandages were removed. A look of relief washed over him, like someone had lifted heavy weights off him. He did not smile, but leaned back in his chair and lifted his head. For one of the first times, he looked straight ahead instead of at the ground. Suddenly, he became overwhelmed with emotion. This was the moment he realised he would see his son for the first time.
Over the next few days, Jack went through a remarkable transformation. He started to walk with his head in the air and a broad smile that seemed wider than his face.
“I can’t sleep because I don’t want to stop seeing and talking to people, all I think about is getting home to see my son, my wife and my family and start my life again,” laughs Jack.
Jack now sees his future as being bright. Once again, he can work hard to provide for his family – to send his child to school and to look after his parents the way they looked after him. And most importantly, he now gets to watch his son grow up!
CBM Australia thanks our implementing partner Callan Services National Unit.