$33 does more than just restore vision to people in need — it has a life-changing impact on their education or employment prospects, and their ability to care for and support their loved ones.
Since 2013, 96five listeners have jumped on board for Miracles Day with CBM and in the last 10 years have provided 47,689 life-changing cataract surgeries in countries like the Philippines, Nepal, Indonesia and Nigeria.
Every one of those Miracles has helped someone like Armon — a young father from the Philippines. Armon faced missing not only the birth of his second child, but seeing both his children grow up – after losing his sight to cataracts.
Vision impairment and blindness are among the top health concerns in the Philippines, with an estimated 1.24 million Filipinos living with cataracts. In a country where 18% of the population live below the poverty line, many people cannot access treatment and live needlessly blind.
“The cost [of cataract surgery] is equivalent to 100 sacks of rice,” explains Charity, an eye health worker for CBM’s field partner in the Philippines. She says that for a family struggling to provide enough for their family to eat, the cost of cataract surgery is simply out of reach.
Blindness Pulling Armon’s Families Apart
Armon found himself no longer able to work and provide for his pregnant wife and four-year-old son. He and his wife had been living with his wife’s family but, not wanting to burden them further, Armon moved out.
In a country like the Philippines, many people blind from cataracts live in regional or remote areas. CBM’s field partner provide outreach missions – setting up eye screening camps in local town halls, schools, or other buildings and performing free surgeries in local health clinics or hospitals.
With just months until his wife’s due date, Armon heard about a free eye screening outreach being held in his community.
Despite his father having just passed away, Armon was determined to go – knowing his father would want him to do whatever he could to see again, even though it meant missing his funeral. His family agreed that it was more important he could see in time for his baby’s birth.
After his eyes were examined, Armon received the news that he could have free cataract surgery the following day. Thanks to the support of CBM and generous Australians giving to Miracles Day last year, Armon’s life was about to change.
Just 12 Minutes to Restore Sight
The next morning, after being prepped for surgery at the eye health clinic, Armon nervously lay on the operating table ready for ophthalmologist Dr Reden to remove his cataracts.
He couldn’t have been in better hands, with Dr Reden having been dubbed an ‘eye health hero’ of the Philippines by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.
“My passion is to give sight back to the poor and give them a second chance in life,” Dr Reden says.
“For me, it’s an opportunity to be of service to the people. God has given me this talent, and I need to give it back to him, and to give Him all the glory and the honour.”
Around 12 minutes later, Dr Reden had removed Armon’s cataracts and inserted artificial lenses, which typically last a lifetime.
Sitting up, Armon blinked his eyes and looked out a window. With a joyful exclamation, and a huge smile on his face, he told Dr Reden and the theatre staff that he could see!
After examining Armon’s eyes the next day, Dr Reden announced that his eyes were in great shape and that he’d be able to return to work soon – and witness the birth of his baby!
“I’m so very thankful,” he told CBM workers after the surgery. “I am excited to see my child and my wife. I always prayed that I could see again. And I was very, very thankful because God gave me this. And I am so blessed.”
CBM’s Miracles Day Changing Lives
Unfortunately, most people with cataracts live in developing countries. Even though 90 per cent of vision loss is preventable or treatable, many remain blind because they cannot afford the treatment.
That’s why CBM and Christian radio stations started Miracles Day, an annual fundraiser asking Australians to give the Miracle gift of sight-saving surgery for just $33. In the past ten years, Australians have given more than 400,000 gifts of sight to people like Armon, living in the world’s poorest places.
“Miracles Day gives us the opportunity to help change someone’s life for less than the cost of six cups of takeaway coffee. For many of us, it’s a small sacrifice, but one that has a huge impact,” said CBM CEO Jane Edge.
Miracles Day 2023 will sound a little different on air at 96five however you can still be a part of making miracles happen with a gift of $33. Donate at miraclesday.com.au or call 131 226.
Feature Image: Armon from the Philippines with Mariska from CBM / Source: Supplied