TARAWAI ISLAND, Papua New Guinea — As the sun dawned here in this isolated place, there was a palpable sense of anticipation. Something unheard of was about to happen to this little community — sight was returning to blind eyes. Eleven people, men and women, young and old, perched on a wooden bench. Some were dressed in their Sunday best, some in casual clothing. Families gathered around a few while friends chattered with others. While they were dissimilar in many ways, these 11 had something in common: Large green plastic shells covered their eyes, holding bandages to left and right eyes alike.
One man, Abraham, had been dreaming of a day like this for almost 17 years. He began having vision problems in 1999 and he had been totally blind for the last three years of his life because of cataracts, a condition that causes clouded vision. His days consisted of sitting in his house alone for hours. He had a cane, but was not able to navigate the village safely or quickly by himself and he had no family to help him. Abraham had lost his job and most of his quality of life due to his blindness.
One day a teacher, Brother Timothy, told Abraham that a ship was coming to the island that could help him. Abraham and the whole island eagerly awaited the arrival of the m/v PACIFIC LINK, the YWAM Ships Kona medical vessel, and the life-changing help it would bring.
Abraham was screened and chosen for the first cataract surgeries to be held off the coast of Tarawai. When the day arrived, he was escorted on board with 10 other people and taken into the clinic. The day wrapped up and patients were brought back to their homes to rest and prepare for the moment everyone was waiting for.
The following morning, what seemed like the whole island’s population gathered around the clinic area as the eye doctors arrived and began assessing their patients. One by one, green plastic shells were removed and tentative eyes opened. There was a moment disbelief in the people’s faces as they looked around and realized that the cloudiness and darkness was no longer before their eyes; they could see! One man excitedly cried out, “I see colors! All of the colors!” Women stood tall and proud as they passed eye tests with ease. Smiles and laughter and wide-eyed gazes abounded. A new lease on life had been given to them!
Abraham sat patiently on his bench, his cane next to him. A collective breath was held as his bandages were taken off and he looked around for the first time. A shout went up, a passionate cry of, “That’s God! That’s God! That’s God! Hallelujah!” The first reaction to sight for a man who had been blind for years was to cry out praise to his God. The words kept bubbling out of his mouth, “Very happy! I’m so happy! I’m crying!” He was beaming and his joy spilled out contagiously. People from his community introduced themselves to Abraham properly for the first time ever. He wanted to be in every picture and shake every hand. He was filled with plans for his new life; he could go swimming, walk around the island, even go for a run! No longer confined to his house or to a seat on the ground, Abraham had his life back!
As the people weaved their way through follow-up appointments and instructions from the doctor, they kept almost sneaking looks at the world around them. Only Abraham had been totally blind out of the group, but even losing sight in one eye to cataracts can severely impair a life. Thanks to the doctors and YWAM Ships Kona, miracles were brought to Tarawai on a day that will never fade from history.
Click here below if you would like to see a report on what we have done in PNG so far this year.