|Posted on:||Tuesday, 16th April, 2019|
I recently had the great pleasure of visiting our partner hospital, Kabgayi Eye Unit, in Rwanda. There, I met two women whose friendship was so powerful and inspiring; I will never forget it.
I met Marie before and after her cataract surgery. Marie lives alone – she is a widow and has no children. She has had severe problems with her vision for more than 3 years. Unable to see to farm, cook or get around independently, she has relied on neighbours to help her, especially her loyal friend Philomena.
Three years ago, Philomena moved to Marie’s village from another part of Rwanda. When Philomena became her neighbour, Marie’s eyesight was already very poor. Philomena has been a steadfast friend and support ever since - helping her harvest her beans or sweet potato, cook, and find things at home. When I asked how Marie would cope without a friend like her, Philomena told me, “If I wasn’t around I don’t know. Only God knows what would happen.”
Getting treatment has not been easy for Marie – she needs help to get around, and walks slowly, even when guided by Philomena and with a stick. Marie had to sell her last harvest of beans to pay for the bus fare to hospital for herself and Philomena. Without someone to guide her, Marie could never have made the journey alone.
When I met the two friends, Philomena had already accompanied Marie to the health centre, then the District Hospital, and was then staying with her at Kabgayi Eye Unit whilst Marie had cataract surgery. As well as physically aiding Marie, Philomena seemed to be a constant support and comfort to her. She had also left her own crops unattended during the long journey to, and stay at, the hospital. But, when I told Philomena that she sounded like a wonderful friend, she replied, “It is said that if do your best for everybody, others will do this for you in turn.”
After Marie’s successful cataract operation, Philomena was optimistic that things are looking up for her friend now – she told me when they get home and Marie can see fully, “we will dance and praise God”. I think everyone could do with a friend like Philomena in their lives.
"Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfil the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2
Image: Marie (pictured left) with her friend Philomena (pictured right) at Kabgayi Eye Unit in Rwanda.