Open my eyes, that I might see wondrous things from Your law

by Bp Jose Luis

The new facilities for the “Good Shepherd Eye Clinic” were opened by the Minister of Health of the Kingdom of Eswatini on July 30. It was a joyful day for all of us.

One of the most beautiful moments of the gathering was offered by the child who brought a pair of scissors to the Minister of Health for the cutting of the ribbon. He is only 11 years’ old and suffered from cataracts. The surgery was done at the eye clinic.

Below, my speech at the event.

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Honourable Minister
Representatives of the Christian Blind Mission
Principal Secretary
The Regional Administrator
Good Shepherd Governing Board
Staff of Good Shepherd Hospital College and Eye Clinic
Distinguished guests
Media representatives
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am, indeed, most grateful to have this unique opportunity to express my thanks, for the support received from the Ministry of Health and the Christian Blind Mission (CBM) in setting up the Good Shepherd Eye Clinic. Please allow me to thank in a special way the Chief Executive Officer and Dr. Pons who have been so instrumental in all the work we see today.

As we read from Psalm 119:18: “Open my eyes, that I might see wondrous things from Your law,” we come to appreciate the need to expand the eye clinic so that it can have multiple eye facilities to service the people of God.

The eye project began 20 years ago in 1998 as a partnership agreement between Good Shepherd Hospital and Christian Blind Mission. It began small and rapidly outgrew the physical facilities we were able to assign the service.

At the same time, the Eye clinic has grown in reputation and capacity: the excellent service being provided has drawn people in need from the Kingdom of Eswatini and neighbouring countries including Mozambique and South Africa and made the old facilities over-crowded and hazardous.

This called for new vision to plan ahead for the next 20 years. This included new facilities with the capacity to serve the anticipated demands for quality and affordable eye care. Fortunately our partner, the Christian Blind Mission was able to arrange for the German Government Development Organization to fund this new building. This demonstrates a high level of cooperation with our partners and also trust in the integrity of our institutions.

Through the ministry to those suffering from blindness and other ailments of the eye, Good Shepherd Eye Clinic reveals the Light and Love of Christ to others and in doing this, continues the mission of Christ who is the true Light of the World.

We can surely all recall the beginning of Jesus’ ministry when going into the synagogue on a Sabbath read from the prophet Isaiah: “The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind…” (Lk 4: 18)

In the health care ministry of the Catholic Church in Eswatini, this is the latest asset, which the Church hereby puts at the disposal of the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini. I look forward to hearing more about the love of Christ spread to others in and through this ministry.

However there are gaps in the provision of eye health care. Looking ahead, there are no fresh Ophthalmic nurses being trained in Eswatini at present. This will undoubtedly affect services in the future. Furthermore, the practice of medicine and especially of the eye, is becoming more high-tech and relies increasingly on non-medical technical assistants. Therefore the Catholic Church observes that this asset that we are opening today, is also a strategic resource for training. It has all the equipment, quality of care, and enough space to train both Ophthalmic nurses and Ophthalmic technicians. The Good Shepherd Hospital and College are therefore requested to look seriously and without delay into offering training programmes for these health professionals.

Finally, we once again thank the Governing Board, staff of Good Shepherd Hospital and College, who has spear-headed all this work, and to thank the Federal Republic of Germany, Christian Blind Mission, and His Majesty’s Government, through the Ministry of Health, for the excellent cooperation we have received from them over the years.

As a Church we want to see all professionals using their skills and knowledge for the betterment of the community in which they live. In this way they will be participating in the saving ministry of Jesus Christ and his Church.

I now await, the Honourable Minister of Health to declare this new wing of Good Shepherd Eye Clinic officially opened.

+ Jose Luis Ponce de Leon IMC
30 July 2018