Even though we are home, this is another great story that I just could not let go without being told.
Like I have said so many times on this last trip, Loren has worn many hats. He was actually doing some student discipline in a specially called assembly, when he noticed the eye of a young man in the front row. I truly believe that God placed that young student there to advert tragedy. Joy, our General Director says he prays to have Loren’s eyes that SEE.
Appa’s eye has the noticeably unusual clouded look of a blind eye, yet somewhat different. Born to extremely poor parents of the Mauchi tribe he lived in the mud hut village where his father farmed five acres of rice. (This village has no written language and several years ago Prakash worked with “The Talking Bible” to translate the Book of Mark into Mauchi.) As is the custom, the infant Appa was laid on the cow dung floor for most of every day—I CAN HARDLY MAKE MYSELF TYPE THE NEXT PHRASE—One afternoon a chicken came into the hut and pecked his eye!!!! I know—gross and double gross. With no attention given to the wound from a doctor he has suffered with repeated incidents of bleeding. The only remedy being cotton placed in his bloody eye. NO ONE had ever had it professionally checked.
At the age of five he was sent to Premsera, an orphanage in Nagpur, because of the birth of a younger brother. His family no longer wanted to care for this disabled child. There were 800 boys at the orphanage/hostel and 80 to 100 students in each class with one teacher. Definitely, no special attention or effective teaching was given.
Loren called in a favor from our Hindu extended family and obtained an appointment with Dr. Surju, the top eye surgeon in Maharastra State. He does over 15,000 cataract surgeries a year, mostly charity cases. A majority of his funding is from Holland, but he was very anxious to shows us his newly appointed pediatric wing funded by Americans.
Anyway, after ONLY a three and a half hour wait Appa had his eye exam.
When Dr. Surju examined the injured eye he said there was no hope for restoration. Sad thing is, IF he had had attention at the time of the injury, the eye could have been saved. The cornea and retina are fine. It is just a Lazy Eye now, with atrophied muscles. BUT Appa’s good eye had two retinal abscesses and needed laser treatment. Loren said, “When can you do it?” The doctor said, “Now, if you are willing to pay.” This isn’t a Prakash budgeted item, so Loren and I paid the bill and surgery began.
We were invited into the operating room. I stood watching and taking pictures with legs crossed and digging my fingernails into Loren’s shoulder. Appa didn’t move! He just did what he was told—as always. This is one of the biggest handicaps of these kids raised in hostels. They are NEVER allowed to make a decision on their own. They are told when to get up, when to go to bed, what to eat, and what to wear and so on. Later in life when it is time to make a career decision—how can they?
At the end of the surgery the doctor said, “Without this surgery Appa would have been blind in both eyes in a couple of years. Being blind, he would no longer be able to be SELF-RELIANT.” That is the motto of Prakash and here is a Hindu man saying the same words.
Appa is in our Electrical trade and is doing quite admirably. He passed his mid-term exam.
He told Loren that he has not been back to Abatyapani, his village in 13 years. He has a 15 year-old brother and a 5-year- old brother he has never seen. Once in a GREAT while he will talk to his parents on the phone. Now, at 18 he will need to make a decision as to where he wants to live after graduation.
Luckily, all of our electrical students, who pass the government exams, have jobs waiting for them.
What a joy it is to see this young life saved from tragedy. It is thanks enough to see the smile on his face. Thank you Jesus that we have eyes that SEE the needs. Help us not to just to look, but SEE.