Hundreds getting free eye cataract operations

HUNDREDS of people from across the country are receiving free cataract operations at Sekuru Kaguvi Eye Unit at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, courtesy of cooperation between First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa’s Angel of Hope Foundation and the Palestinian International Cooperation Agency (PICA) which brought in Palestinian medical experts to work with local doctors for the benefit of the people.

The operations which started on the 7th will run for a week up to the 14th of this month.

A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s natural lens which is behind the iris and the pupil and results in eyes experiencing a hazy or blurred vision and the operation or the surgery is done to improve eye sight.

Yesterday, Dr Mnangagwa, who is also the country’s health ambassador, visited the hospital where she interacted with the patients and medical teams.

Some of the beneficiaries shed tears of joy, praising the First Lady for giving them a new lease of life.

They also spoke of the challenges they faced walking and performing household chores due to the cataracts.

Herself, certified in industrial basic first aid from the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society, the First Lady performed first eye dressing on some of the patients where she cleaned the eyes with swabs and saline before dropping medication.

She removed bandages from their eyes signalling the completion of a successful operation.

Angel of Hope Foundation patron and the country’s Health and Childcare Ambassador, First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa interacts with patients awaiting cataract surgery at Sekuru Kaguvi Eye Unit in Harare, yesterday

The First Lady said her visit sought to thank the medical teams, strengthen the beneficiaries and drive away fear among them.

“You have done well to come and be operated on for free. This is something unusual, you know. When you have been operated on like this, you can now lead normal lives just like other people out there. You can now walk and work even in your fields. You woke up early in the morning for this and I thank you,” the First Lady said as she spoke to the patients who responded with joy.

“How about you vana mbuya nana sekuru? You also woke up early too,” she said and the elderly they responded: “Ichokwadi Amai vedu vane rudo, we woke up early and thank you. Your love is unmatched,”

In jest, the mother of the nation said now that they had been operated on, they could now chase chickens for the stew pot on their own without seeking assistance from their grandchildren.

“You can now see even chickens and can now chase after them and cook for us when we visit you.”

Dr Mnangagwa also strengthened those who were awaiting their turn to be operated on.

“You are not going to die, but you are being operated on so that your eyesight is restored so that you do not have difficulties walking and performing your various tasks. I have come to strengthen you so that you are not filled with fear and know that you are undergoing corrective surgery. I thank you for waking up early to come and benefit from the programme. This is not an opportunity you should let pass. Next week you will be telling others that you had a successful operation,” she said.

Beneficiaries of the partnership between Angel of Hope Foundation and PICA queue for eye cataract surgery at Sekuru Kaguvi eye unit yesterday

Amai Mnangagwa said she would tailor-make a programme focusing on diseases like diabetes which were claiming lives in the country.

“We are here at the Sekuru Kaguvi Eye Unit at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals which is the country’s biggest referral hospital. This is where there are many tasks done to assist the people of Zimbabwe which is the aim of the Ministry of Health and Child Care to ensure citizens have access to good healthcare. Doctors are working on removing eye cataracts. These cataracts are mostly caused by diseases like diabetes which mostly affect people who are aged from 50 and upwards. This is also the age group that mostly has diabetic conditions. As angel of Hope Foundation patron and health ambassador, this is an issue we need to focus on as these are non-communicable diseases so that people understand that when they have cataracts, what does that mean? Some people may not be going for health checks to see what will be troubling them resulting in them getting cataracts.

This is an area where I need to raise awareness on the challenges of diabetes. Diabetes is among ailments that are claiming lives in our country. Today hundreds of people have been operated on free of charge. This is a great opportunity for our elderly because we have our friends who have come from Palestine to assist our local doctors from the Ministry of Health and Child Care. They are working as a team to assist our people in their numbers hence the queues. I urge everyone to come and be examined free of charge for the good of your health and to be able to perform some tasks on your own,” she said.

Turning to the Palestinian doctors, she said, “On behalf of the people of Zimbabwe, we warmly welcome you and would like to thank you for coming here, we are grateful for your services. Together with our local doctors you are now a team and you are saving lives.”

Angel of Hope Foundation patron and the country’s Health and Childcare Ambassador, First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa interacts with patients awaiting cataract surgery while Palestine Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Tamer Almassri and Ambassador Imad Al-Zuhairi look on at Sekuru Kaguvi eye unit yesterday

Gogo Perpetua Ngazi, from Manyame Park in Chitungwiza was over the moon.

“I am truly thankful and am lost for words to thank our mother, the First Lady. I had been having challenges with my eyesight for three years. I am diabetic, hypertensive and have heart challenges. My sugar levels kept rising and I was being advised to first control the sugar level before they could operate on me. I thank our mother, the First Lady greatly for her foundation’s partnership with these international doctors. Because of the eyesight challenges, I could no longer perform my household chores, but this is now a thing of the past since I was operated on yesterday,” she said.

Gogo Ngazi’s testimony was almost similar to that of Sekuru Phillip Mugari, a farmer from Mazowe.

“I thank our First Lady and may God bless her. I had never seen a person with such a passion to serve. We were operated on and were given medication free of charge. I had never witnessed a gesture of this nature. As a farmer I was failing to farm and monitor progress on my farm because of the eyesight challenges. I was just seeing mist but now that I can see properly, my work will go on well,” he said.

Equally elated was Gogo Esteri Zvirahwa from Nyanga who had an opportunity to be attended to by the First Lady who dressed her eyes.

“I can now see, thank you my God, thank you Amai. I can even count and I am seeing four people in front of me,” she said as she danced with the First Lady as they sang songs of praise.

“I was failing to even see the entrance to my house, resulting in me getting into cattle pens and goat pens. I would be assisted by my grandchildren. We heard of the programme where Amai was inviting us to be operated for free and woke up early with my daughter-in-law to come here. I was operated on and I could now even see the nurses whom I could not see yesterday. Please may you continue with your good heart Amai vedu as you helped us greatly that we cannot even thank you enough. May God add more life to you and the good you did to us,” she said.

Health and Childcare Ambassador, First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa conducts first eye dressing on gogo Esteri Zvirahwa from Nyanga after eye cataract surgery at Sekuru Kaguvi eye unit yesterday

Mrs Letwin Makanga (55) from Dzivaresekwa Extension, Harare, could not hide her joy.

“I am thankful for the programme that was rolled out for our benefit by the First Lady. Individually, we could not raise the money to come for treatment. She is a mother who knows that she has children in the country. Children who do not get much and are in need of assistance. I can now see and am able to read yet I could not see properly and was having difficulties walking alone. I can now perform my household chores. Kana mumunda ndakunopinda ndishandire mhuri yangu idye ichiguta,” she said.

Gogo Mary Chitima (79) from Wedza and Mr Artwell Chunga from Magunje also came all the way to benefit from the free service.

Dr Boniface Macheka, the head of Sekuru Kaguvi Eye Unit and Chief Government Ophthalmologist commended the First Lady for her love and support.

“I would like to thank the First Lady for bringing the Palestinian doctors through her Angel of Hope Foundation and the Palestinian International Cooperation agency and they came to work with us and operate on upwards of 500 patients. We are targeting 100 patients a day. We are working with a team of Zimbabwean doctors who are enthusiastic and they wish to thank Angel of Hope Foundation and the First Lady for bringing in these partners who are going to continue to support us going forward into the future,” he said.

Palestinian ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Tamer Almassri, described the coming in of medical experts from his country as a gesture of true friendship.

“This is the first stage of our cooperation because Angel of Hope Foundation will bring many teams in cooperation and coordination with the Palestinian International Cooperation Agency. We shall not end on the cataracts, but will focus on many fields. As Palestinians we feel the solidarity with Zimbabwe as you feel solidarity with our people,” he said.

Angel of Hope Foundation patron who is also Health and Childcare Ambassador, First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa interacts with Palestinian International Cooperation Agency medical experts while Palestine Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Tamer Almassri looks on at Sekuru Kaguvi eye unit yesterday. — Pictures: John Manzongo

PICA director-general Ambassador Imad Al-Zuhairi who is leading the team said his organization felt honoured to work with the Angel of Hope Foundation.

“How pleased and honoured we are to work jointly to end the pain of our brothers and sisters who had eye surgeries here in our beloved Zimbabwe, a friendly country. Our doctors together with their partners from the hospital are conducting and performing surgeries which will reach 500 in the next couple of days,” he said.

Ambassador Al-Zuhairi said his team will be in the country up to the middle of the month.

“We will continue working with the First Lady and her AOH foundation to further our partnership in various fields,” he said.

The First Lady donated maize meal to all the patients.

The promotion of health and emotional wellness is a cause that has defined Amai Mnangagwa’s footprint as she continues to make life better for the less privileged.


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