Raphael Duntoye, Chef-Patron of London restuarant La Petite Maison is passionate about food, he is also passionate about giving back to his home country, Nigeria. For the last 8 years La Petite Maison have supported the Savitri Waney Charitable Trust’s work in Nigeria through its £ billing campaign – Small Change for Big Change 

In April 2017 Maggie Gardner and Emily Kerr-Muir went to Nigeria to visit the projects we support. 

‘Yesterday at the hospital in Calabar we met 30 people who were suffering with cataracts, some were completely blind, others struggling with increasingly cloudy sight in one eye. People like Esther who had gone blind at 50, lost her job as a civil servant, and now relied on others to assist her with everything; Elizabeth also blind who had travelled, with her son to help her, over 250KM for the surgery; and 74-year-old pastor John who had already had one eye operated on and was back for his second.

The mood when we arrived was hopeful and joyous. People were in the middle of morning worship – amazing singing, dancing and loudly vocal private prayer. This was followed by instructions ‘don’t rub your eye after the operation’, sleep on your back or the other side’ and questions – both from the patients and their helpers.

Morning welcome and prayers

We’ve seen cataract surgery before but never quite so close-up. People are amazingly brave. One operation involved a particularly developed cataract that took lots of skill (and knowledgeable poking about) to remove – who knew a cataract could be nearly the size of a shirt button.

Today, after a nights rest the bandages came off and final checks – 28 of 30 people now able to see. One old lady sadly when they removed the cataract also had long-standing damage to her retina which will require further treatment. And pastor John is delayed until Monday as the difficult cases meant the surgeon ran out of time. 

Elizabeth getting the all clear

Esther and Elizabeth can both see. Esther is hoping to get back to work. Elizabeth could sit, on a seat without help (we had seen how impossible this was yesterday).

Pastor John is still happy – he is thanking the Lord for the doctors, for nurses, fellow patients, for our partner Mission for Vision, for Savitri and for everyone who gave a £ to make people who are blind, or going blind be able to see again – he is also stamping his feet, jumping and dancing for joy in his God and in his life.’

Talking as we start our journey home beyond the lovely people we met both staff and patients, what struck us was how the work was warm, friendly, full of good humour and at the same time effective and efficient. 

"Small Change for Big Change is transforming lives – and we are very proud to support this work in Nigeria." Maggie and Emily