“led by the stick”

When I visited World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva just before Christmas, I noted their two sculptures in the grounds.  Here is one of them depicting a scene I recall from many years ago – a boy leading his blind grandfather in the way a guide dog in the west would help a blind person find the way.

P1040499I recall a group of elderly people arriving in Kisiizi in exactly this manner in the early 1990’s to attend an “eye camp” where a visiting ophthalmologist assessed them and selected those for surgery.  Many had cataracts amenable to surgical removal.  In those days there were no artificial lenses available so the practice was to then issue the patients with very thick glasses.  I recall the amazing scene of the line of patients sitting post-operatively and the nurse going along the line removing their bandages.  Of course, they could not see anything without a lens present.  They had been through the surgery and had some discomfort in their eyes and now they still couldn’t see anything!  But then the nurse came down the line again and put a pair of thick lens glasses on each patient.  The old man on the end of the line blinked a few times, then started looking around excitedly as for the first time for months he could see again… then he started to sing and jump up and dance and the rest of the line wondered what was happening but as they received their own glasses they all joined in!

Many had resigned themselves to never seeing again and now they had a new lease of life.  It resonated from the pages of the new Testament where the blind healed leapt up and down with joy.  Nowadays we have cheap artificial lenses made in India so all cataract patients are given a new lens and don’t need the glasses.