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Camels and Cataracts: an Ophthalmology Elective at Lighthouse for Christ Eye Center

Filed under: GEMx Student Reflections

By: Denis KAMARA, Ophthalmology resident Mbarara University of Science and Technology for electives at Lighthouse for Christ eye center, Mombasa July 2019

Denis standing outside the hopital


With a lot of appreciation to GEMx, I am a Ugandan who just completed my elective and I will be starting my second year come August at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) where I joined in August 2018 from St. Joseph’s Hospital Kitgum, Northern Uganda. During my second semester a colleague, Dr. Naome Kyomugahso shared with me electives opportunity offered by GEMx which looked interesting, so I moved forward and applied. I must admit, it wasn’t all easy. In attempts of applying I had trying moments I gave up due to some technical and requirement challenges, but I was greatly encouraged and guided by Ms. Faith and Ms. Phiona to move step by step till I was accepted at Lighthouse.

Denis at the airport

My journey started from MUST on 28th of June, I arrived at Lighthouse at 7:30 pm Saturday for the flight from Nairobi had been rescheduled. Being weekend the facility was so quiet but Victor Indeche, staff welcomed me and showed me the accommodation. The next day, I requested to join him for the church at the satellite for Lighthouse churches. I got my first ride in a Tuktuk as they were so many of them as well as taxis called matatus (small minibuses). They were so different from the taxis in Uganda. They played loud music and were raised at the back like Pavilions. They move so fast even through inroads under construction, you find that they were moving in between two trailers whose containers look as if they will be falling off any second but to my surprise everyone else seemed fine, not bothered at all.

One thing that struck my sight was the architecture of most of the buildings which were connected and had blue-white colors as a symbol for the Mombasa County.

Denis with colleagues

On Monday 1st July, Lighthouse for Christ Eye Center became quite busy with many patients and staffs; I was warmly welcomed by Mrs. Gladys, she introduced me to the Medical Director, DR.Fredrick Korir who orientated me to all units. The facility has special clinics of cornea and pediatrics in addition to the private and general clinics of pediatrics and cornea. Operation in the theater is from Monday to Thursday; outreach teams carry out screening within the communities and there also satellite clinics. The facility provides a lot of services in eye care and spiritually nourishes the people from Mombasa and far beyond.

In my time at Lighthouse, I saw and managed patients from the general clinics most of the time when there was no theater so I learned and perfected my examination skills, did many investigations and learned basic refraction. I discussed several cases with Dr.  Fredrick Korir, Cornea specialist and Dr. Ibrahim Matende who taught me enormously. Learning continued during theater where I learned

Denis and team during cataract surgery
different surgical techniques in cataract, glaucoma and corneal surgeries. Thanks to Dr. Sawe David who provided me the opportunity to do 3 cataract surgeries under close supervision that challenged the energy and feeling within me so much so, that I now have the passion and desire to continue with that and be able to do them alone.

Thee second week was amazing and so fortunate for me because Lighthouse hosted a surgical camp with specialist in Cornea (Dr.Bowman Brad), Glaucoma, ( Dr.Tosin Smith) and oculoplastics ( Dr.Jorge Corona) all from Texas who taught me a lot after

Dennis and colleagues
knowing I was an ophthalmology resident on electives. We worked together in theater and I observed and assisted  in a number of procedures for my first time such as phacoemulsification,keratoplasty-DSAEK, blepharoplasty, Gonioscopy Assisted Transluminal Trabeculotomy, stent and tube insertion and so many others. Thanks to the elective, I am in touch with them for guidance greater inspiration in my ophthalmology career.

Weekdays were all spent at Light House and weekends were when I moved around with friends and spent much time at the beaches riding camels and swimming in the oceans. The last Saturday was well-spent thanks to Lighthouse where we went to Flamingo beach hotel for team building where a lot of lesson activities were provided. The weather was a bit cooler compared to another period although I felt it hotter compared to Ugandan weather. I also polished up my Swahili quite a bit as I interacted with patients and staff though English bailed me out most times.

Denis and friends after riding a camel

In general it was one of the best opportunities in my life though the time seemed short which was due to other university obligation that I was required to fulfill in the same time period limiting me to only one month, I call it the fruitful month of July for I gained a lot of knowledge, skills, and the uniqueness in how different the facility operates.

I am so grateful to GEMx for making a big difference in my life by offering me such a big opportunity to improve on my career, thanks a lot for those who were in contact with me to make it possible, Ms. Faith Nawagi, the GEMx Global Partnership Development Rep- Africa, Ms. Phionah Asaba Kinwa the GEMx Africa administrator, Ms. Hulda from COECSA finance, Dr. Simom Arunga from MUST is your GEMx manager, Dr. Frederick and Ms. Gladys of Light House in Mombasa. Thanks to Dr.Simon Arunga, senior lecturer and GEMx coordinator who confirmed my details and guided me accordingly.

Denis and colleagues on a computer

In the same spirit of thanks to Lighthouse family for hosting me as one of their own and each member contributing to my learning, Asante Sana to the entire team from management, administration, and everyone.

All things have a beginning where you start from and always return, great thanks to Mbarara University of Science and Technology for the collaboration and allowing me to come for electives. Be blessed for your good works in Jesus, name.



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