Each Wednesday, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek celebrates women and their accomplishments. This Wednesday, UNIC Windhoek celebrates Dr. Helena Ndume, a Namibian ophthalmologist who has performed over 30,000 free eye surgeries.
Before going into ophthalmology, which is the medical and surgical care of the eyes and visual system and in the prevention of eye disease, Dr. Ndume dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. However, after talking with a mentor and thinking about the needs of Namibia and its people, she decided to go into the field of medicine.
Upon returning from exile in 1989, she completed an internship and decided to specialize in ophthalmology. She says, “I could see that there were so many blind people here, blinded by preventable blindness just because we don’t have [enough] doctors in this country.”
The first place she went to was Rundu. Although her and her team examined 500 people and booked for 200 to come back, only 80 people came back for treatment because people were skeptical about eye surgery because it was something they never heard of.
Dr. Ndume describes the fear of the people who did not know about ophthalmology, “They were so scared. They said, ‘Have you ever heard of a person operating on people’s eyes? If you go there, your eyes will be damaged.'” Continue reading