I’m thrilled to announce that the new artificial eye clinic has just been officially opened in Timor by the President Jose′ Ramos-Horta.
I remember back in February 2008 I was about to fly out to Timor-Leste to start this clinic when President Jose′ Ramos-Horta was shot in an assassination attempt. It was a devastating time and thankfully he made a full recovery.
It was July that year before I finally made it to Timor Leste and the clinic project began its long journey. Timor had been through so much upheaval that I found arranging things was very difficult in those early days. I had trouble finding a translator. I had no running water so I washed my hands out the window with bottled water. Every day there were different challenges. I came home exhausted.
Now six years and several clinic visits later and there’s been so much progress. The Royal Australian College of Surgeons (RACS) have arranged funding for a permanent building and trainees for the new clinic. I am so very grateful to RACS, Lions First Sight and Aus Aid for all their fantastic support.
I’m very excited that the new clinic has just been officially opened in it’s permanent new home in front of the National Eye Clinic. We have two trainees from that clinic coming to Perth later this year to learn more about making artificial eyes.
Just as the clinic has gone from an idea to a reality, so too has Timor Leste gone from the early days of independence to a strong peaceful country. It’s been such a privilege for me to visit Timor each year and see all the progress. I’m so very pleased we have got this clinic to a point where it is there to serve the wonderful people of Timor.
Looking over some of the before and after photos of people with their new artificial eyes it occurs to me that this restoration process brings healing to the heart as well as the physical appearance. How appropriate that this is happening in a country that is also on a healing journey, moving forward and leaving past trauma behind it.