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restore eyes, lips, and hope in Nejo, Oromia
(OPride) – Several volunteers from two California-based charities –
the East African Medical Relief Foundation (EAMRF) and Here4them –
are spending the first two weeks of November providing restorative
care at the Nejo
Hospital in Ethiopia.
Located in western part of the Oromia region, Nejo hospital and its
six physicians serve over 500,000 people. In this part of rural Ethiopia, where advanced medical
treatments are almost always out of reach, villagers often walk 6-8
hours to seek medical attention. On Nov. 10, a team of 11 American
doctors, nurses, and logisticians from northern
arrived in Nejo on a medical evangelism mission.
Led by Nejo-native Obse Lubo, the group has already restored sight
to the blind, renewed hope to countless people with cleft lips, and
provided much-needed medical training to the people of this
underdeveloped region. Lubo who is on her fifth annual medical
mission to the hospital, is founder of the EAMRF.
On the group’s first full day at the hospital, 39 patients received
screenings for cataract surgery – while more than 260 people waited
outside the eye clinic at Nejo hospital for their opportunity to be
seen by Dr. Gerard Ardron, an ophthalmologist from
California. Assisting Dr. Ardron
were his wife, Dr. Marigold Ardron, their son William, and two local
nurses, who are being trained on how to use the donated state-of-the
art screening equipment.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jonathan Freed, a plastic surgeon from Auburn, California,
performed his own medical “miracles” by repairing cleft lips for
over 13 people.
The oldest patient with a cleft lip was 50 years old; the youngest
was six months old. Hundreds of villagers from the surrounding areas
came rushing to Nejo Hospital for a shot at this life-changing
surgery upon hearing the news that an American doctor had come to
repair cleft lips.
"I will enroll him in school in September,” said an enthusiastic
mother of six-year-old boy after her son, who had previously missed
schooling for fear of harassment, received the surgery. “I have no
fears now, my son looks the same as other kids in my village. I
thank God for giving my son and me this opportunity. I thank all the
American doctors that came here to help. My burden is off now."
The Ardron family and Dr. Freed were joined in Ethiopia by
co-founders of Here4them Scott Barlow and Mark Pierson; three nurses
from California; an ultrasound tech; and four others who are helping
with logistics and the organization’s evangelism mission. Volunteers
organized by Here4them brought with them all the equipment and
supplies needed to perform the surgeries.
More than 70 people including Nejo community elders, the Nejo Hospital
director and doctors, Nejo’s City Mayor, and other government
officials welcomed the medical team warmly and with much
appreciation. In the first two days of the medical mission, Dr.
Freed repaired 12 cleft lips and removed one cyst from an ear. He
then headed to Gimbi Adventist
Hospital, 55 miles west of
Nejo, to do more cleft lip repairs.
Dr. Ardron for his part performed 17 cataract surgeries on second
day at Nejo while also screening several patients in between
surgeries. On the third day, between checking on the post-op
patients and setting up new patients for more surgeries, he
performed 19 more cataract surgeries, all without any complications.
More surgeries are planned to take place over the following days.
Most of the patients coming to
Hospital for the cataract
surgery say that they have been blind for anywhere between 3 to 11
years. The youngest cataract patient was a 25-year-old college
student; the oldest, 92 years old. All patients, no matter their
age, were beyond grateful to have their blindness lifted. And were
thrilled for a rare chance to carry on with their normal lives.
all concerned group and our society to support the Obse Lubo
East African Medical Relief Foundation (EAMRF) and Here4them