In 2013, Bray, an active 14-year-old boy, lost his sight in both eyes.
The once capable fisherman, soccer player and student dropped out of school and other activities he loved. Confined to familiar surroundings, he became heavily dependent on his family.
In May 2016, when YWAM’s Training and Medical Ship dropped anchor in Oro Province, Papua New Guinea, hope arrived.
With a freshly fitted cataract surgery suite aboard, the MV YWAM PNG had the team and equipment to give Bray a brighter future.
Working in collaboration with Oro Provincial Health, the YWAM teams visited 21 villages along the Oro coast, including Bray’s village of Emo.
After initial assessment by YWAM’s ophthalmology team and subsequent follow-up by one of YWAM’s eye surgeons volunteering from Australia, Dr. Bill Talbot, the diagnosis was confirmed: blinding cataracts in both eyes, obscuring Bray’s retina (the back of the eye where images are captured).
Dr. Talbot said, “We were not at all certain how successful the surgery would be in this particular case. We didn’t want to hold out false hope for Bray but on the other hand our hearts went out to him – we were desperate to try what we could.”
On June 7, Bray went into surgery for cataract removal with a lens implant, a procedure which took 40 minutes.
The next day, Bray walked into the clinic feeling his way along. As the nurse gently peeled away the patch and wiped Bray’s eye, a sheepish smile emerged on his face. The nurse held up her hand for a high five – he high fived her back!
Dura bent down in front of him and a smile erupted across Bray’s face. Dura put his hand on Bray’s cheek and spoke to him in their language, sharing a moment of joy. Bray’s sight was returned!
He went on to have the other eye operated on, too. Dr. Talbot and the team were thrilled with the early results of both operations.
“It’s such a joy to witness Bray’s recovery and to see him interacting with others and engaging with life on board the ship.”
Dura shared his joy, “This was such a special gift to us. I can’t wait to bring him home to see the rest of the family after so long. I think they will be so surprised and will cry!”
Bray said he was most looking forward to returning to school, playing soccer and touch football, and watching football for the first time in years.
Without the support of organizations like Henry Schein, this type of life-altering assistance would not be possible. For more information and to join us on a life-changing adventure, visit www.ywamships.org.au.
Posted by Anna Scott
YWAM Medical Ships – Australia works alongside Papua New Guinea’s National Department of Health to actively develop communities in areas of health, training and community development. They are a branch of Youth With a Mission, or YWAM, a worldwide Christian movement operating in more than 180 countries since 1960.