Volunteer work at Good Shepherd Hospital Eye Clinic in Eswatini
Britta & Bernt Zetterberg - Sweden
Our longing to do volunteer work in Africa started 19 years ago during our time in Cape Town, attending Vineyard School of Ministry for a year. We’ve been praying and looking for the right timing to go back one day ever since. Because I’m a trained ophthalmic nurse in Stockholm, Sweden, we knew I was challenged to use my profession in some way, and through many exciting circumstances, we finally ended up in Eswatini. Good Shepherd Mission Hospital Eye Clinic is situated in the Lubombo district, the poorest region in Eswatini, with a population of about 207.000 people. The eye clinic offers eye care throughout the whole country, and to the neighboring countries Mozambique and South Africa.
During our first 6 months after arriving in October 2017 I was involved in preparing for the two new eye clinic buildings that were under construction; taking care of donated equipment, planning of rooms and furnishing during this time. Finally, the first patients started to come in May and the clinic was officially opened in July 2018.
After the opening I became the coordinator of starting up the first Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Service in Eswatini. Many Diabetes patients come to the eye clinic with visual impairment, sometimes blind because of retinopathy. People have very little understanding how Diabetes affects the whole body and especially the eyes.
When patients come for screening I do counselling in lifestyle changes and health education. That is an amazing opportunity for me to learn about the circumstances people live under, and to understand the obstacles that hinder them from attending screening and eventually further treatment. Advocacy is also very important, to meet health care workers at different levels to discuss how to do training and educate people about Diabetes eye disease. Occasionally I also work as an assistant nurse at the theatre when as many as 25-30 surgeries are done on one day.
Bernt, my husband, has been involved at the hospital as a project manager of the IT network and he manages donations. There are many different challenges to overcome behind the scene to make everything work at a Mission Hospital, were you have little resources and need to reuse all equipment. One needs to be creative in finding solutions.
Our time at Good Shepherd has been challenging in many ways, but we’ve loved it! Being part of the eye clinic team has given us the opportunity to learn a lot about the country and its culture and to love the people of Ewatini.
Ashley is from Muskoka, Ontario, Canada and is a graduate of McMaster University with an honours degree in history and political science. Ashley has been volunteering at the Good Shepherd Hospital Eye Clinic in the role of administrator since September 1, 2012. In her capacity as administrator, she has been assisting the hospital's administrative team in undertaking tasks specifically related to the eye clinic, such as facilitating the shipping of donated medical equipment. She has also been aiding the clinic by providing technical support, training staff members on the computer, and applying for grants.
Our eye clinic is situated in Eswatini (former Swaziland), a small country neighbouring South Africa and Mozambique. In the past we have had film makers, academic course administrators, marketing experts as well as a range of health care professionals.
Would like to contribute to the restoration of vision in Eswatini (former Swaziland)? If you think that you have skills that could help the Good Shepherd Eye Clinic then please contact via the form below, or send and an email to firstname.lastname@example.org! If you are a health care professional please look under the tab 'for professionals' for more information.