When a chicken says thanks for a miracle

Stories | July 5, 2023 | Author: Mariska Meldrum, Campaign Manager, CBM Australia.

I once saw someone so grateful for eye surgery that he gave the surgeon a chicken. Not a delicious fried or roast chicken… a live chicken.

While visiting CBM’s eye health partner in the Philippines recently, I noticed a man blind from cataracts, being led by his wife to join the queue of people waiting for free surgery. Speaking with the woman, I heard how the couple only ever just earned enough to feed and clothe their family. When cataracts clouded her husband’s sight, this woman simply didn’t have money spare to pay for surgery to remove them. She explained that in the Philippines, the cost of surgery is equivalent to 100 large bags of rice. And so, as her husband’s eyesight dimmed, so did her hopes for their future.

The man couldn’t believe it when one day he was told that CBM’s partner in the Philippines would give him sight-saving cataract surgery for free. For this woman and her husband, this was a miracle. An answer to many heartfelt prayers. Shortly after, her husband’s name was called, and she gently led him into the operating theatre.

Around 20 minutes later, she led him back out – his eyes covered with patches. Ophthalmologist Dr Reden had removed the man’s cataracts and inserted a new lens, restoring his vision for life.

The following day, the couple returned to the eye health clinic to have his patches removed. Watching his excitement as he blinked at the bright light and told his wife he could see again; I was distracted by a nearby bag.
Poking out of the wriggling bag was a chicken, curiously looking at the scene before it. Seeing our curiosity, the couple explained that the chicken was a gift for Dr Reden and CBM’s partner staff.

In the Bible, Mark chapter 12 Jesus tells his disciples the story of a woman giving two small copper coins, worth only a few cents, to God. It was a tiny amount, but it was all that she had. Jesus teaches the disciples that this woman gave more than the rich who gave much more. In verse 44 Jesus points out “They gave out of their wealth, but she, out of her poverty put everything – all she had to live on.”

When I saw this man and his wife give Dr Reden a live chicken as thanks for restoring his sight, it reminded me of two things. First, it reminded me of the sacrificial nature of this gift. Like the woman Jesus spoke about, this couple were giving something that could have fed their family.

Secondly, it reminded me of the many Australians who give $33 to help restore someone’s sight. Some people might not think twice before parting with such a small amount, especially given the impact it can have. It might represent missing a few takeaway coffees or burgers. But for others, living on a tight budget, this $33 is a sacrificial gift. Money that could have been put towards the grocery or electricity bill.

This is why I am so passionate about supporting CBM’s Miracles Day. Each year, it inspires a movement of generosity across Australia. People of all ages give $33 so that someone else living needlessly blind can have their cataracts removed and their sight restored. It’s so simple – yet so life-changing.

Since Miracles Day began 11 years ago, Australians have given more than 400,000 Miracle gifts of sight-saving surgery. For every person that has their sight restored, and can return to school, work or helping around the home, there’s their family – whose lives have also been changed. Grandparents who see their grandchildren for the first time; parents who can go back to work to support their family; and children who can return to school.

I’ve witnessed firsthand in the Philippines, Vietnam and Nepal the joy on people’s faces when their sight is restored. I’ve seen CBM’s partners and Ophthalmologists, like Dr Reden, work tirelessly to do as many cataract surgeries in a day as possible. The need is great, but their passion for helping those living needlessly blind is even greater.

Help restore someone’s sight for just $33. It’s the best money you’ll ever spend. Donate here or call 131 226.

Ophthalmologist Dr. Reden T. Rabino (63, left) receives gift from his happy patient. Dr. Reden has been collaborating with the CBM partner Eye Hear Foundation in several sight-saving surgery initiatives in the Philippines.

CBM acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

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