Author: Mariska Meldrum
Never in my wildest imagination, would I have pictured myself standing in a small shack on a remote island in the Philippines, watching someone have eye surgery.
But there I was, a mum of three small kids – known for running out of the room during operating scenes on TV – watching in awe as Dr Reden performed cataract surgery.
The operating theatre was nothing like the ones I’d been in in Australia. It was a tiny town hall, without running water, turned into an operating theatre for the day using sterile sheets and equipment brought in by four wheel drive.
Outside, dozens of people lined up nervously waiting for their turn to have their cataracts removed. Many had lived needlessly blind until the day before, when CBM’s partner ran a cataract screening camp.
After being examined by a team of dedicated eye health doctors, they were told their blindness or low vision was caused by cataracts – a condition affecting more than 20 million people worldwide.
Unable to afford cataract surgery, these people were invited to return the next day and have their cataracts removed for free. Something made possible by the generosity of Australians.
Each year, on Miracles Day, Australians are asked to give $33 (the cost of a couple of movie tickets) to give someone the Miracle gift of sight-saving surgery. CBM Australia uses this money to fund eye-health projects in countries like the Philippines.
And today, I had the opportunity to witness someone getting their Miracle.
Beside me in the operating theatre was Kel from 89.9 The Light in Melbourne, and Kirste, Corey and Morro – breakfast show hosts from 96five Sonshine FM in Perth. We were there to broadcast Miracles Day live from the Philippines.
While Kel and I hung back, trying not to faint, the others were fascinated by the surgery. And I admit, it was fascinating.
We watched a young father gown up and after some quick checks, hop up onto the mobile operating table. Dr Redden popped a few drops into his eye, and less than 12 minutes later had removed the dense cataract blocking his eyesight.
We couldn’t help cheering when Dr Redden held up his fingers and the young father counted them.
The day before, after finding out he was having surgery the next day, this young father had invited us to visit his home. After a stomach-churning trip up the mountain, we walked through a village and found his wife and young children waiting outside his small wooden house. Despite the language barrier, they shook our hands and said “thank you, thank you”.
As a parent, I feel the weight of responsibility for providing for my young family. And that moment when I realised the surgery was a success and this young father could see again, and would be able to return to work, is something that I’ve never forgotten.
If you can give $33 to give someone a Miracle, I’d say it’s the best $33 you’ll ever spend.