Saturday, February 20, 2016

Friday Eye Clinic: Grama Niladari, Sri Lanka

Sorry - I've gotten a day behind with posting due to a combination of fickle wifi and busy, long days.

Friday morning, we woke to glorious sights and sounds at our bird sanctuary lodgings near Nuwara Eliya, with an added bonus of tea in the upper viewing room, followed by breakfast with new friends from a UK ministry group.

Friday's eye clinic was held at the senior centre in Grama Niladari.  When we arrived, 15 or so people were waiting outside - because the inside room was packed with 50 to 60 more, all standing up, patiently awaiting the start time, knowing that more waiting was to come. 

From the very start, I found myself overwhelmed at the abundance of thankfulness in the room, several times even to tears. The senior group president greeted us warmly on behalf of their community, stating how glad they were for us to come and hold the clinic in their building. For so many of the people at the different clinics, the eyeglasses we present are the first they've ever owned: it's delightfully rewarding to see spontaneous smiles as the world suddenly comes into focus. The light in their faces is a vivid reminder of how much we take for granted, and also of how what seem to be simple kindnesses from our view can literally change someone's life. 

This is a rampant vegetable growing region - leeks, carrots, cabbages, potatoes, etc., flourishing in fields of perfectly uniform raised beds, with more terraced in anywhere there is space. Perhaps since vegetables are plenteous local staples, overall health of eyes was very good, especially compared to other areas with less produce available. 

Though the majority of today's group was mainly Buddhist, many asked for additional prayer for needs other than compromised eyesight, clearly stating that they believe Jesus can help them. It's amazing how showing love through meeting a present need can open hearts to trust for other very real but unseen needs. 

Mid-morning tea and short eats were served to us; my Western mind finds it a bit of a conundrum to eat in front of people who are still waiting, but knowing It is an honour to receive such gracious hospitality. (Somehow, though, I managed to try one of everything ... savoury samosas are very helpful toward mental adjustment.) After the clinic, we were invited to the home next door to join several local community leaders for a late lunch. I'm trying not to overuse the word 'gracious', but this is part and parcel of all the Sri Lankan people we've met, so it's a bit of a challenge.

In all, 69 people's eyes were examined, and 59 pairs of eyeglasses were given away today. 

Saturday is another clinic day at a different location, so please check in tomorrow - there is more to come. - Cyndy

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