“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” Isaiah 60:1 NIV
In 2013 Maman Germaine Mouniango from Koulamoutou, Gabon lost her sight completely to cataracts in both eyes. Last month, Maman Germaine had cataract surgery and has completely regained her sight! Maman Germaine was accompanied by one of her eight children, daughter Ida Bouanga Boukoka. Maman Germain lost her husband in 2018, leaving her widowed, alone, and completely blind. She moved in with her daughter and grandchildren but often spent time alone in the house struggling to take care of basic necessities.
Maman Germaine sought out many medical facilities around south-east Gabon, in the Ogooué-Lolo region, and did not find any options to help her with her cataracts. She lost hope of ever regaining her sight again. Her world was small and dark and very lonely. She descended into depression. She described her humiliation and shame at having to receive help even to go to the bathroom. Sometimes her small grandchildren were the only ones available to help her. One time she remembers being home alone when her daughter had gone to work on their plantation and the grandchildren had gone outside to play soccer with their friends. She fell and broke her leg trying to use the bathroom alone that day. The neighbor heard Maman Germaine calling out for help and quickly came to her aide. Some in her community laughed at her and blamed her for her blindness, saying she must have done something wrong to have become blind. When her husband died in 2018 she had already been completely blind for 5 years. She was not able to physically see him in his last days before he passed away.
Many people in her community urged her to go see the traditional healer. She told them that because of her faith in God, she could not go to the traditional healer. Her mother had brought her up going to church where she learned about God and put her faith in him. She knows that many go to the traditional healer but she refused.
“The Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.” ~ Psalm 146:8 NIV
After some time people began to tell her about Bongolo Hospital. They told her she should go there to find treatment. At this point she could not afford to travel so far and by herself. Her daughter had many responsibilities to attend to and could not accompany her then. It would be about a 2-day journey including a long train ride and many taxi rides, along with camping out in the forest overnight. After some time many people gave money to help Maman Germain. Even children in their town gave toward their needs, and her daughter, Ida, was finally able to make the journey and pay for the surgery.
They finally arrived on September 2, 2020. Maman Germaine was overjoyed to discover not only loving care from the doctors, nurses and staff at Bongolo but the surgery that would restore her vision! Dr. Elisée Baruwa was able to perform the surgery one eye at a time over a period of two weeks. Almost immediately after each surgery she was able to see clearly for the first time in 7 years!
“When the bandages were removed from my mother’s eyes, she was looking at me. She said she could see me! She told me what color my shirt was. I was overjoyed and I began to cry! I give God the glory because she can see again! I just want to encourage people that are in the same situation as my mother that there is a God who is always with us no matter what our circumstances are. God exists. My mother is an example of how God works and gives hope and healing. We must put God first and have faith, in everything have faith. I will tell people there is a place in Gabon that has truth. Bongolo Hospital has doctors and nurses and staff that have wisdom and truth.” ~ Daughter Ida
She was able to see her young grandson for the first time ever. He had accompanied them during this long journey and two week stay at Bongolo. She feels she has made not only new friends but new family members here at the eye clinic of Bongolo. She is overjoyed to have regained her sight and have her hope restored. She called many of the staff members her children and felt right at home at Bongolo. She is praising the Lord for this miracle of going from darkness to light, blindness to sight!
“When I left Koulamoutoou, God directed me and told me I would find my family at Bongolo. When I arrived I couldn’t see out of either of my eyes. I had the surgery and now I can see clearly! When I go back home I don’t know how I will feel myself, if I will cry or have joy?! When I was at home I was stuck in the house all the time. When I think of how my young grandchildren used to help me with everything before, now everything has changed! I am so happy now because I am free! I can even help them! The God that we pray to is a marvelous God! He is a God who heals! I want to share with everyone to keep their faith. God allowed me to be healed here at Bongolo! For those that have never heard of Bongolo I will tell them it is a place of testimony. I will be a living testimony of God’s goodness at Bongolo. I am going home now but I will keep Bongolo in my heart always.” ~Maman Germain
Written by Alace Straw and Ulrich Ilema, Photography by Ulrich Ilema