When Claudine was born, her eyes did not open. She was lucky enough to be born in a hospital, but the doctors did not know why her eyelids remained closed. Her mother, Akouvi, brought her home and waited. Days passed, but the baby’s eyes remained closed.
Seven days after the child was born, Akouvi took Claudine back to the hospital in Togo, West Africa. The doctor put eyes drops in her eyes. Finally, her lids lifted, and she took her first look at the world around her. But her mother was saddened to see that Claudine was cross-eyed.
Strabismus is the medical term for crossed eyes – an incorrect alignment of the eyes. Claudine’s case was congenital, meaning she was born with the condition. As Claudine grew, it was a blessing for her mother to realize that the condition only hindered her vision a very small amount. Akouvi explained, “Whenever she looks to the outside, she has limited vision, and her right eye goes deep inside toward her nose, limiting what she can see. But she never ran into things when learning to walk. When looking straight ahead, she is okay.”
Early treatment of strabismus can help prevent depth perception problems and the development of even more serious visual issues. But medical care is limited in countries like Togo. Akouvi took her baby to doctor after doctor, hospital after hospital. Every time the answer was the same: “We cannot help her.”
Akouvi described her despair. “I became fed up and exhausted. I decided to stop trying. I thought, ‘Maybe it’s only God that can save her. Maybe God made her like this for a reason.’ I had completely given up.”
Akouvi felt the door had been slammed in her face. But when God closes a door, he opens a window. One day Akouvi’s husband received a phone call from a friend, Paul, who was a day-volunteer with Mercy Ships. Paul told him that the doctors on the ship performed eye surgeries, and they could help Claudine. God had opened a window.
Akouvi took Claudine to a Mercy Ships patient screening, and the precious two-year-old was given an appointment card for surgery. The day after the surgery, Claudine was seeing perfectly out of beautifully aligned eyes.
Akouvi said, “Mercy Ships was an answer to my prayers. We tried every way, and couldn’t get a solution. I know God’s hand was involved with Mercy Ships coming into our lives. Through God things become possible … things like curing Claudine’s eyes. I am so grateful.”
Story By Claire Bufe
Edited by Nancy Predaina