The boss of Shrewsbury-based charity has launched a fundraising drive to create a specialist eye clinic after British surgeons restored the sight of hundreds of people in the third world region.
Stephen Drew, who runs Medic Malawi from his home in Belle Vue, said the work of volunteers from the Malawi Eye Surgery Fund of London had resulted in more than 30 cataract operations carried out every day.
He said one woman saw her children for the first time in eight years and saw the “beautiful faces” of her grandchildren for the very first time as her cataracts had developed to the point she was completely blind.
He said the recent visit has now sparked him to create a specialist clinic in St Andrew’s Hospital in the Mtunthama region of Malawi – which was also funded by Medic Malawi – so volunteer surgeons would arrive and be able to do the operations with the correct equipment already in place. Hundreds of people had their sight restored by volunteer surgeons
After watching the eye patches being taken off the patients at 7am every day, Mr Drew, former principal of Wrekin College in Wellington, said: “It was awe-inspiring.
“There were 30 or so operations each day on those who had been totally blind and could now see again.
“It was a privilege to witness it each morning. One man just stared at his own hands, moving them around in front of him. Another lady jumped up and danced and shook hands with everyone. A man counted us all.
“A lady told me she had not seen her children for eight years and never seen her grandchildren.
“You will see them today,’ I said and as I looked at her face I knew I was looking into the face of sheer joy.”
Mr Drew said the eye surgery project was a first for the charity but had been such a success it was evident a permanent eye clinic was needed at the hospital.
“There is no eye care for 100 miles, and the surgeons had to bring all their kit by road from South Africa.
“A clinic would enable us to send a volunteer specialist for a few days who would find all the kit available – plus a wonderful caring hospital in a beautiful but desperately poor country,” he added.
Mr Drew prides his charity on the reputation that every penny goes direct to the charity and nothing is taken for administration.