The times I have travelled overseas with CBM have been some of the most incredible and most important moments in my whole life. Seeing CBM’s eye health projects in person over the past decade have changed me in a way that I find difficult to express, even now.
To put it simply, I’ve had the privilege to witness miracles. I’ve had the honour to witness people have their sight restored through cataract surgery, in some of the most forgotten and remote places on earth.
I’ve met these people, visited their villages, trekked through muddy mountains to sit in their huts, and then I’ve witnessed their operations, and I’ve been there when their patches were removed.
I’ve seen people see for the first time.
I mean, how do you ever remain the same after that?
Seeing someone have their sight restored? Seeing a child see their mother? Seeing a mother blink into the light and realise she can see? Watching an old man cry tears of joy when he realises his life has been given back to him?
It’s breathtaking. It’s overwhelming. And I simply cannot find the words to capture that moment. There is nothing like it.
I have so many stories from my trips, but I’d love to share just a few… because their stories need to be told.
I met an old man in Nepal called Kiratnagar. He couldn’t work and feed his wife because he couldn’t see because of his cataracts. They lived under a few pieces of sheet metal. Someone donated $33 and I was blessed to witness his operation. I stood there in scrubs with hot tears running down my face, and I was overwhelmed with grief and happiness all at once. It was a 12-minute operation, and then I was there a day later when they took off his patches.
Strangely enough, I was the first thing he saw. An animated blonde woman from a foreign country. We didn’t speak the same language, so we sat there both crying and then clapping and laughing. That moment is burnt into my memory. He was so excited to be able to get a job and earn money to feed him and his wife. He was in his 80s.
Another time, I met a little six-year-old boy in the Philippines. He was blind from cataracts and was about to receive his Miracle gift of sight, thanks to Australians. I asked, through the translator, what the first thing he wanted to see was. He said, “I want to see my Mummy’s face”.
Speechless. Tears. How could I ever be the same? I met him the next day, when his sight had been restored, and I asked him what he thought when he saw his mummy. He said… “She is so beautiful.” I wept.
Another trip, I met a young mother called Man Maya in Nepal. Like me, Man Maya is a mum. When we met, she had two little daughters, both under the age of 5. Cataracts had clouded Man Maya’s eyesight, stopping her from seeing her precious girls. My heart was in my throat as I sat next to Man Maya during her patch removal, after her operation a day earlier. Never before had I prayed so hard that surgery would be a success for this mum so that she could see her daughters. As the nurse removed the bandage, Man Maya blinked as the light hit her eye. Moments later, she started grinning. It was the largest smile I had ever seen. She could see. She knew this would change her life.
The moment overwhelmed me. I had seen many of these operations and patch removals before, but this was different. I couldn’t hold back my tears. Perhaps it was because our daughters were the same age. But for some reason, I started weeping and could not stop. Man Maya wrapped her arms around me and kissed my face. Two mums who didn’t speak the same language and who would likely never meet again, but both knew just how special it was to see your child for the first time. We had both been a part of a miracle.
These moments… they changed my life. My heart. They changed me as a person. Which is why I’m so passionate about CBM and Miracles Day.
This year, the goal is to bless 40,000 more people with the Miracle gift of sight-saving surgery. So, I humbly ask you, on behalf of all these amazing people I’ve met in the poorest places on earth, will you join with me on this Miracles Day, and make a difference? We may not be able to change the whole world, but we can change the whole world for one person. And if not us, then who? Who will stand up for these people?
If you can set aside $33 for a miracle, I promise you, you will change someone’s whole life, half a world away. We can do this, we can make this world a kinder, better place. But it starts with us.