Duk Payuel, Jonglei — The eyesight of 286 patients has been restored by a team of 16 US doctors visiting the Duk Lost Boys Clinic in Jonglei state.
The clinic is run by the John Dau Foundation, a project championed by the so-called lost boys of Sudan in the US.
The founder, John Dau, also known as Dhieu Deng Leek, told the Sudan Tribune from within the compound of Duk Lost Boys clinic in Duk Payuel payam [district] on Thursday that "the services we are delivering can bring peace to our people."
The eye surgery for peace project will run for five years with doctors coming to Jonglei state annually. During the eight-day exercise, the John Dau Foundation transported eye patients from all counties of Jonglei state. The largest province in South Sudan has a notoriously poor road network, neccessitating some the patients to be airlifted to the clinic.
Opened in May 2007, the clinic is the only health facility of its kind in central Jonglei state. Villagers from the host county of Duk and neighboring counties of Uror, Twic East, Bor, Nyirol, Ayod and Pibor have benefited from its services. At least 75,000 people have visited the clinic in the last five years. 7,000 children were able to receive vaccinations and 200 mothers delivered under the care of trained nurses for the first time in the remote areas.
Doctors visiting Duk Lost Boys clinic operate on eye patients in Duk Payuel, Jonglei, December 18, 2012 (John Dau Foundation)
"I said, maybe we can do it in this way: bringing blind Nuer, Murle, Dinka and other tribes to Duk, have doctors restore their eyesight together, so that they can see each other for the first time. This is what we can peace dividend. We tie eye surgery to peace," said Dau.
Patients who undergo eye operations at the Duk Lost Boys clinic are given sunglasses to slow allow them adapt to the light. Nyapuke Nyuon, a woman in her 70s, said she lost her sight in 1994. Nyapuke walked for 14 hours from her village to receive the treatment.
For the last 18 years, Nyapuke said she could not distinguish different colors.
"Now, I can see you face, your teeth and the clothes you are wearing. Before I came here, everything was black," she said.
According to the John Dau Foundation a large crowd gathered in Pibor on Wednesday to witness blind men and women seeing once again.
Dau also said that peace in the state could be better achieved if its dividends are seen by its people, rather than with fruitless peace talks and negotiations.