The story of Yonatan: Indonesian community icon and family man 

Stories | December 15, 2022

Yonatan’s eyesight began gradually declining in 2012. Over the years, he gave up hobbies like fishing and sailing as they became too difficult to do independently. Yonatan, who lives in eastern Indonesia, even recalled the day he could no longer recognise the faces of his wife and children.

Things began to change when Yonatan met one of the local healthcare workers supported by CBM Australia. The healthcare worker brought Yonatan to a local clinic, where they realised he needed cataract surgery.

Yonatan said initially that he was very anxious about receiving surgery. He’d heard rumours about surgeons who would “gouge his eyes out”, and he knew the operation would cost a lot. Fortunately, one of Yonatan’s neighbours was about to have the surgery herself, so Yonatan decided to wait until hers was done to see if it was as bad as he thought!

As you may have guessed; it wasn’t bad at all. After Yonatan’s neighbour returned from surgery, she told him all about the process – how easy it was, how the health workers helped transport her to the hospital, and how the costs had been subsidised.

Hearing this good news first-hand was all Yonatan needed to reassure him that the surgery would not end in any eye gouging. So, he decided to book himself in. When we asked Yonatan how the surgery was compared to the rumours, he said: “It was very relaxing – it wasn’t scary at all! If I knew the surgery would be that easy, I would have gone much sooner!”

With his eyesight back, Yonatan has returned home to his loving wife and family. Together, Yonatan and his wife have reopened their store, where they sell snacks, spare parts and other goods. They mentioned that their store also becomes the local karaoke bar on a Friday night, where community members gather to sing and enjoy some of Yonatan’s renowned palm wine!

We asked Yonatan whether he’d encourage others to get cataract surgery. “I’ve already started,” he said.

CBM acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) and thanks our partner Yayasan Tanpa Batas.

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