I had started to sense the calling to the mission field that God had placed on my heart, but I had no idea where, when or how, especially since I had no experience in overseas mission. What I did know was that I had a love for ophthalmology and so I set about researching opportunities.
My application to the Good Shepherd Eye Clinic in Siteki, Swaziland was accepted and, having planned to stay for four weeks, I extended this to five weeks because of the amazing time I was having. I spent most of my time in the outpatient clinic at the main hospital in Siteki and at their sister clinic, St Theresa’s in Manzini.
Patients presented with a wide range of needs, including cataracts and glaucoma – the two leading causes of blindness worldwide – and so I had lots of opportunities to master the slit lamp with lenses to view the back of the eye. In addition to the clinics, I was present in theatre and joined the ‘Flight to Sight’ mission outreach, which uses Mercy Air helicopters to reach rural communities without access to local ophthalmic care.
My elective was a great time academically, but also a wonderful time of personal and spiritual growth.
I lived on Mabuda Farm among a community of missionaries, living out the gospel day-to-day in this wonderful setting. In this resource-poor country, there is a lot of hardship experienced by patients and other staff members, and many patients with irreversible blindness. Whilst this is always heart-breaking, there was something special about being able to talk and pray with patients when all modern medicine options have been exhausted.
This elective has helped me understand to a greater level my calling to work overseas as a missionary in the future. God has put a desire on my heart to go back to Southern Africa and be part of the effort to improve international eye health, particularly with regards to African glaucoma, and I am planning to complete a PhD in this speciality. I’d like to thank everyone involved who made this elective possible for me and for so many others who benefit from the support of the student elective bursary.
EMMS International offers bursaries in support of medical, dental, nursing and therapy students who are looking to undertake an elective in a mission hospital. With the generous support of our partner, The Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, and its charitable arm, the St. Lazarus Charitable Trust, the scheme has been running successfully now for over 3 years. If you would like to apply for a grant to help with the cost of your overseas elective, you can find out more about it and apply at www.emms.org/seb.