Kwame Amanfoh, a CEENTA ophthalmic technician who has helped hundreds of people in villages throughout Ghana get free eye screenings and glasses, has gone one step further and helped a woman there get treatment for a serious eye injury she received as a child.
Kwame met Emilia Akosua when she was walking along the road and he was driving to the village where he was working. He saw her eye and attempted to ask her what had happened, but they did not speak the same language and couldn’t communicate. So, Kwame took her picture and went back to discuss her eye with a doctor, asking what they could do to help her.
When he returned to the village he showed Emilia’s picture to people and was able to locate her and her husband, aunt, and uncle.
Through them he learned that Emilia’s eye was damaged when she was 6, when she was farming and a piece of branch poked her in the eye. There were no hospitals in her village and they couldn’t afford to go to the city, so her mother tried to treat it with warm compresses and local medicine. Unfortunately, she lost her eye and the side of her face was severely burned from the compress, causing her to lose the skin on that side of her face.
Emilia and her family.
Life has been hard for Emilia, now 21, since the accident, Kwame said. People would call her a witch and when she was young they forbade their children from playing with her.
Emilia originally approached her uncle for help, Kwame said. He originally wasn’t sure where to take her, and was very happy to hear what Kwame had to offer.
“This was something they had been waiting for,” Kwame said. “She always wanted it fixed, so they didn’t hesitate to agree. Her uncle said whatever we can do we should do it.”
Kwame took Emilia and her family to the city of Kumasi, where Dr. Peter Osei-Bonsu was able to close up her eyelid and clean the damaged tissue from her eye. That will next allow them to put in a prosthetic eye. Kwame, who assisted with the surgery, said that will happen when he returns to Ghana in August.
Emilia was at the clinic recently, Kwame said. His friend called to tell him Emilia is much better and is ready for the prosthesis. When she looked in a mirror for the first time after getting the surgery, she started crying because she was so happy.
After she is fitted with the prosthetic eye they will try to repair her face with a skin graft, Kwame said.
Emilia after her surgery. Kwame is to her right.
Victory Vision Care, the eye-screening non-government organization Kwame founded in 2003, paid for Emilia’s surgery. They are always happy to take donations, and will need some for Emilia’s skin graft.
“If we can get her a skin graft, that’s my biggest dream,” Kwame said.
Kwame thanks CEENTA for supporting his work and providing equipment and eye drops.
“I’m very, very pleased to be with CEENTA and for their support for what I’m doing in Ghana,” he said.
People who want to help can call Victory Vision Care at 704-307-2970 or email Kwame at [email protected].
Dr. Miles is an optometrist with expertise in specialty contact lenses including scleral lenses and pediatric eye lenses.
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