Thursday, July 30, 2009

Leaving Something Behind

Waiting for us in Porto Novo today was this:
It is completely impossible to work through the seemingly endless mass of patients. I have no idea where they keep coming from, but in the last few weeks the crowds in Porto Novo have been growing. 
So.  The schedule for eye surgery on the ship is completely booked for the duration of our stay in Benin. What happens to all these people after the ship leaves? Are we leaving ANYTHING behind?
Well, Yes. Let me tell you about it.
The bright green card pictured above is an appointment card for Cataract surgery at Porto Novo Hospital. The head of the Ophthalmologic Department there has spent some weeks onboard with our head eye surgeon receiving hands on training in a sort of mini surgical fellowship. She has become quite good at the procedure and will no doubt be the catalyst that the costal regions of Benin need to move forward in he realm of Eye Surgery. She has agreed to perform 200 Cataract surgeries on patients screened by us in our Porto Novo Clinic. 
All we have to do is screen them, and provide the equipment and supplies. What does this mean, you ask? This means that Benin now has a competent eye surgeon who the public can Trust. The 200 free surgeries are a start... and when the patients experience positive surgical outcomes... the public will hear about it... and then they will head to Gran Hospital de Porto-Novo for their surgery. Building confidence in local facilities means leaving behind something long term that is not dependent on external resources. I think this is probably the single most important thing that we have done here. This is what is going to count 1o years from now.
Entrance to Porto Novo Hospital:
This is the face people give me when the clinic s full and I can't receive any more patients:
Now, take this woman's face and multiply that by 300... and add a few crying babies like this:
And you will see why I am really excited to be LEAVING SOMETHING BEHIND THAT WILL LAST.

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