“I used to say, ‘If you give someone fish to eat, you feed him for a day. If you teach him to fish, you feed him for his whole life. But if you teach people how to teach other people, then you feed a village for a whole generation.'” — Dr. Wodomé
Dr. Abram Wodomé is an ophthalmologist in Lomé, Togo. A decade ago, he completed a mentorship onboard the Africa Mercy. After learning alongside Mercy Ships volunteer eye surgeons, Dr. Wodomé caught a passion for non-profit work and opened a clinic of his own where he continues to perform free cataract surgeries and train other Togolese surgeons.
Clinique Ophtalmologique Lumière Divine, which translates to Ophthalmology Clinic of Divine Light, is where Dr. Wodomé practices and trains other eye doctors to perform cataract surgery. The clinic includes comfortable waiting rooms, a two-bed operating theater, and several pre- and post-op examination rooms. A recent addition to the clinic offers housing where ophthalmic trainees can stay during their three-month mentoring period.
During mentoring, local surgeons shadow Dr. Wodomé and learn the MSICS method (Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery), a surgical technique ideally suited for low-resource settings. His students are also taught how to train others, creating a wave of possibility for future impact.
On a typical day, Dr. Wodomé performs cataract surgery in under seven minutes. During training days, however, the clock slows down. One surgery might take 40 minutes, as he meticulously guides his students’ every move.
In 2012, Mercy Ships donated essential training equipment to Dr. Wodomé and his clinic. In addition to the training he received onboard, this donation has helped catapult him forward, enabling him to bring more sight to people blinded by cataracts.
As Togo’s leading cataract surgeon, Dr. Wodomé provides thousands of surgeries every year to visually impaired patients. Many of these surgeries are performed entirely free of charge. To make these free surgeries possible, Dr. Wodomé’s team runs door-to-door campaigns in remote country regions and organizes rural patients’ transportation to Lomé.
Screening teams travel throughout Togo to assess potential patients. Dr. Harry — an ophthalmologist trained by Dr. Wodomé, who now works at the clinic — evaluates people’s vision to determine whether they are a viable candidate for surgery.
One of their recent patients shared her story of healing. For 70-year-old Hounsigbo, cataracts have been detrimental to her quality of life, leaving her unable to see at all. Hounsigbo’s biggest wish is to see her loved ones again. If her eyesight is restored, she says the first thing she’ll do is gather her seven grandkids around her and simply look at their faces.
The day after Hounsigbo received surgery, she returned to the clinic for her post-op appointment. A nurse removed the bandage across her face, and she blinked her eyes open — a smile like a beam of light burst across her face.
The operation was a success. For the first time in a decade, Hounsigbo could see.
Hounsigbo ran into the exam room where Dr. Wodomé was working and wrapped him in a celebration hug. His smile echoed hers. Another person’s sight restored — another family changed.
Dr. Wodomé shares,
“The future of eye surgery in Africa looks very bright because more and more people are interested in quality training. It is the basis of everything. When the training is of good quality, the surgery gives good results, and the patients are confident about their practitioners. I think that over the next few years, Africa is promised a better future.”
Because of the skill and commitment of Dr. Wodomé, his team, and Mercy Ships Medical Capacity Building program and donations, patients like Hounsigbo have the hope of restored sight and fulfilling their dreams.