Home About the use of donations
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Sunday, 17 February 2013 18:27

What great joy! The approx. 500 kg donation sent by the foundation has finally arrived.

We have been waiting for it impatiently for months. Here in Africa the weeks and months run into one another. The people I kept ringing weekly, asking: “Where are our crates???” always responded with: “Please, do not become upset; matters are moving along in their own way”. Once when I was looking disapprovingly at my watch, telling an African that he was late, he replied: “Doctor, you have watches, we have the time”. Well, what can you say to that?

So, the parcels finally arrived. The salon has changed again into a battleground, and it took two days to arrange everything. About 100 kilos of used glasses were also in the shipment, and as we were preparing for a mission to the country, I decided to take along as many of them as we could. However, for this they had to be measured first, because, once there, we have no time for such things in the midst of work. I decided to use our day of rest, Sunday, to do the job. Since we have had no power for a week, I constructed a small measuring rule, on which one can guesstimate the diopter of the plus glasses and with this rapid method I managed to measure five boxes of glasses.

These glasses from Hungary are going into the jungle of Africa! I shall report on their certain success!Thank you to all of those who with their dedicated work have collected passed on and donated these glasses!
Fr Richard

Getting ready for the next mission

We are preparing for a very exciting and interesting mission. We have been told in Lusambo, where we go to two or three times a year, that 120km upriver we will arrive in a very isolated district, where there are many patients with eye problems.

This village is called Pania Mutombo, and there are many very large villages in the immediate vicinity. It is situated on the southern edge of the tropical rain forest zone. Until 20 years ago, the Lusambo river had been navigable that far, but as the transport of goods became a problem due to the road conditions, the boat traffic has completely stopped. In November 2012, when we were on mission in Lusambo, a small group of us went up the river in a motor boat and examined patients for three days. Lots of onchocerciasis (river blindness) and cataract patients were found. There is very great poverty in the area; around 80% of the patients who were offered to be taken to Lusambo where the doctor was waiting to operate on them and they would see again, replied that they didn’t have a penny to their name, not even for food, and how would they get back home again?So we decided that we would divide the next mission between Lusambo and Pania Mutombo. It will be very exciting, because we will have Belgian visitors and we are going to go with them. Here is the program: - February 20 – the Belgians are arriving and will be visiting the Mbuji Mayi ophthalmic centre, taking photos and doing interviews.- February 22 – we will take the small plane to Lusambo, where the equipment should have arrived by car in the meantime. - February 23 – we will set off on the Sankuru River to Pania Mutombo, avoiding the hippos.- February 24 – we shall settle in and start the consulting hours. Two to three days after that, once we have an operating schedule, we will begin performing the operations. We plan to stay in Pania Mutombo for about ten days and afterwards another ten days in Lusambo, making the mission last for about three weeks.

Pania Mutombo is sort of a largish village. In the course of the Congolese reforms of the health care program, six years ago this district, like many others, was changed into an independent medical zone. A ‘reference hospital’ (the term used by the World Health Organization to refer to hospitals that accept complex cases referred to it for cutting edge diagnosis and treatment) is the centre of these medical zones. Here a small house was designated as the hospital. I have not seen it yet, but was told that it was pretty rural looking. The plan is to perform the examinations in the ‘hospital’ and the actual surgery in the parish. The reason for using the latter is that the only normal buildings in Pania Mutombo are the old missionary-built Catholic parish house and the church. Fortunately, the parish priest is a good friend and will welcome us ... Well, that's the Congo for you... one has to improvise everywhere.An important part of the preparations is the shopping. This time we have decided to take everything from here: plates, knives, forks, mattresses, mosquito nets, plastic chairs (in order to avoid having to rent them there!) Toilet paper, mayonnaise, canned food, jam, flour to make bread with, canola oil and chocolate - as a morale booster in desperate moments. Of course we are taking medications, glasses and everything necessary for basic ophthalmologic care. And made many photos and interviews with the patients. Incidentally, the cataract patient called ‘the village witch’ who was operated on during the last mission in Lusambo (see our article 2012 Mission in Lusambo) lives in this village, and I hope we shall see her again.

A few words regarding expenses: The biggest out of the ordinary problem will be caused by fuel costs. The motor-pirogue is very expensive: about 125 litres of petrol are needed one way and, since it will be a two-way trip, the fuel cost for it alone will amount to about $1,000. The car too consumes a lot on the Lusambo road as there is a lot of sand on it. Patients are provided with glasses and medicine, which is also costly. To cover these expenses we are asking this year for support from the Foundation.
Fr Richard, in the midst of preparations.



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