For two years we lived in Egypt and served as representatives of LDS Charities. During this time, we served the poor and needy by working with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to help local people find solutions to their problems. This was a remarkable and life-changing experience for us. We never dreamed that we—a retired couple with no specialized training—would have such adventures and be blessed to see so many lives changed.
One memorable experience took us into the oases of the Sahara Desert for one week, where LDS Charities partnered with a wonderful NGO for the last 15 years to provide vision care to the poor. This NGO has traveled into the oases of Egypt to provide vision care for over 850,000 people. Through the vision treatment initiative, LDS Charities provides specialized equipment and professional training by highly skilled ophthalmologists who volunteer their time and resources. The ophthalmologists from LDS Charities work alongside the local Egyptian doctors. Together they donate their time and resources to travel into the desert to help the poor.
One night, crowds of people were beginning to pour into the village of Kargha in western Egypt. For weeks the local radio station had announced that the vision campaign was coming, and now the doctors had arrived and were ready to see patients. Numerous parents carried their babies and young children to this village to get their eyes checked. One man carried his blind wife on his shoulder. Another young father brought his newborn baby to be treated. We felt overwhelmed to see the great need of these people who have no access to care because of their poverty. The equipment and materials that LDS Charities had donated was used to bless many of these people, and we were humbled to be a part of that service.
On the first day of the vision campaign, a villager came for help late at night. Leprosy had already blinded the man in one eye, and the disease now threatened his good eye. The surgeons quickly prepared him for surgery. The man’s vision was saved. Without treatment, he would have become fully blind within a week. Throughout that night, the doctors from Egypt were able to perform over 80 eye surgeries. They removed cataracts, repaired deformities, and restored precious vision. This same work continued from village to village throughout the week. Because of the sacrifice of the Egyptian doctors and the skilled ophthalmologists and resources from LDS Charities, people could now lead productive lives after receiving the vision care they so desperately needed.