THE Windhoek Country Club & Resort was abuzz recently with people from all walks of life who came to celebrate Dr Helena Ndume’s prize for her sight-restoring work. Ndume was one of two people who got the United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela prize in July which she collected it in New York. So far, Ndume has helped to restore the sight of more than 30,000 Namibians most of them the needy since 1997.
Two of those whom she has helped were present and they spoke about how they appreciated the work she was doing for the country.
Leena Kapofi (81) said she was not born blind but lived with the condition for five years. She said her grandchildren helped her before her sight was restored. Kapofi said she could not collect her own pension and requested her grandchildren to do it for her but on 5 August 2015 her agony ended at Engela District Hospital when Ndume arrived.
“On that day Helena did it all. The following day when the patches over my eyes were removed, I saw light and realised I could see again,” said Kapofi, adding that some blind people, who stood a chance of seeing again, refused to be operated on.
“They are being deceived by family members who tell them that they will lose their eyes if they go for an operation. What eyes will they lose if they are blind already?” she asked. “I can read again. I can see again. I can write and I know you gave me my eyes back.”
Helvi Kapande Ndango said she had eye problems for one-and-a-half years. Ndango, a Rundu resident, said her main problem was that she only has sons and no daughters “so they would lock me up in the room when they got tired of helping me”.
She said she kept going to the hospital to inquire about when Ndume would be coming and the nurses promised to let her know,“When the day arrived, I was happy to be going to Katima to see Ndume, although I couldn’t see.”
Excited about the results, she said on the night after the operation, she removed the eye patch to see whether she could see and saw her four fingers and then immediately put it back. Ndango said in the morning she was then told to go back to Rundu and told when to return for the second eye operation.
Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said Ndume’s patriotic work should be emulated by all those already serving the country. She challenged the youth to take their education seriously to help provide services, saying they should not leave for greener pastures as their services are needed here. She also encouraged Namibians to embrace the principles of volunteerism.
First Lady Monica Geingos, former First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba, former Prime Minister Nahas Angula and retired army chief Martin Shali were also present.
Dr. Helena Ndume is a Namibian ophthalmologist, notable for her charitable work among sufferers of eye-related illnesses in Namibia. She was born in Tsumeb, Oshikoto Region and studied medicine in Germany, before returning to Namibia in 1989 to complete a medical internship. She later returned to Germany, to specialize in ophthalmology at the University of Leipzig.
To date, Dr. Ndume has ensured that some 30,000 blind Namibians have received eye surgery and are fitted with intra-ocular lens implants free of charge. She is currently the head of the Ophthalmology department at Windhoek Central Hospital, Namibia’s largest hospital, and is one of only six Namibian ophthalmologists.