As the boat pulled onto Emo’s shore, the first people to greet the team were two familiar faces that the YWAM team had come to know and love – Dura and his brother, Bray.*
Bray was one of YWAM Medical Ships miracle patients from 2016. When we first met Bray at 17 years of age, he was blind in both eyes from cataracts – he had to be led everywhere he went, and relied on his brother, Dura, to help him eat and dress. The once capable fisherman, soccer player and student was forced to drop out of school at grade three.
When Bray completely lost his sight three years ago, his family waited and prayed for a miracle. The glimmer of hope they were given was from the local hospital when the family was informed that soon the YWAM Medical Ship would be coming with eye specialists who may be able to help Bray regain his sight.
The waiting ceased in May last year when the MV YWAM PNG dropped anchor near Bray’s village in Oro Province. Among the patients seen were Bray and his brother, Dura.
As the optometrist assessed Bray’s eyes, optometry clinic leader, Andrew Scott, shared with him the wonderful news; he was a candidate for surgery. And though they did not know how successful the surgery would be, there was hope that Bray’s sight may return.
Townsville ophthalmologist, Dr. Bill Talbot, performed the surgery on Bray’s eyes in the theatre aboard the MV YWAM PNG.
It was a beautiful moment when Bray returned the day after his surgery to find out how successful the surgery was. As the nurse peeled away the patch from his eye, Dura came over to Bray to see the result, as Dura bent down in front of him, a smile erupted from Bray’s face. Dura put his hand on his cheek and spoke to him in their language, they smiled together and shared a moment of joy – Bray’s sight had returned.
Eight months later, Bray is a different person. The once-was blind boy is climbing coconut trees, laughing with friends, paddling in canoes, and playing sport.
The gift of Bray’s restored sight, has not only deeply impacted Bray’s life, but Dura’s, who was once Bray’s primary care taker.
“In December last year my wife had a baby boy. We named the baby after Andrew, who took care of us before, during, and after Bray’s surgery. Our family will always be thankful to God for YWAM. Our baby, Andrew, is another reminder to us,” said Dura.
Next week, Bray will return to school, he is enrolled in grade 4 – determined to finish what he started.
Are you an eye care professional with a desire to change lives, just like Bray’s? Two-week volunteering opportunities are available for optometrists, ophthalmologists, ophthalmic scrub nurses and orthoptists onboard the YWAM Medical Ship in Papua New Guinea. To learn more, visit www.ywamships.org.au/volunteer/
*Anna is the Public Relations and Media Manager for YWAM Medical Ships.