Seven Soekens in Burundi
Hi! We are the Soeken family! There are seven of us. Tim (dad), Rachel (mom), Timothy (13), Stephen (9), Carey (7), Joseph (5), and Samantha (2). We have temporarily joined the Kibuye team for the period of February – May, 2022. We are loving it! Since you may have seen us in random photos or heard mention of us, we were invited to write a short introduction to our family.
What does Tim do while he is in Kibuye for this Global Ophthalmology fellowship? Tim works with 2 ophthalmologists and 2 ophthalmic clinical officers. You may have seen them over time. From left to right, there is Dr. Leopold (ophthalmologist), Emmanuel (OCO), Herve (OCO) and Dr. Jean Claude (retina specialist). Tim has previously completed a cornea fellowship so he spends some of his time teaching best practices for cornea here and some of his time is spent learning how to practice ophthalmology in a low resource setting. Tim thinks the world of each of these four men and would happily work with them for a lifetime if he could! They are all incredible clinicians, surgeons, mentors and friends.
This is the BEST story! Isaac is a 10 year old boy that I met early last week. He presented
one week after he was hit in the eye. He had what we call a hyphema. Initially it was not
concerning, so we just treated him medically. However, within 2 days his eye pressure sky
rocketed and we increased medical therapy and recommended that he have a “washout” of the
blood the following morning. Unfortunately, Isaac did not show up the next morning. He did
not return for a whole week. And, when he did his eye pressure was even higher and he was
100% BLIND in that eye. I was devastated. And to make it worse, he father had just paid for the
surgery. I was very conflicted but agreed to still perform the surgery. I honestly do not think
that the boy or his father understood the situation. I told Rachel about the situation, and told
her of my total hopeless outlook. But, Rachel being Rachel said, “OK, I will pray for him.” I
thanked her for her kind gesture, but I still expected only a depressing outcome. I went and did
the surgery. Nothing unexpected happened during the surgery. The boy went to sleep. I
prepped the eye, washed out blood, removed a large blood clot, and sutured the single small
incision. The eye was patched and the boy awoken and taken to recover overnight. The next
day I was seeing the usual flow of post-ops and I was handed his chart. On the place for vision
for his right eye I saw “6/24”. I expected “NPL” (no light perception, how we write total
blindness). I asked someone to verify, I said they probably checked the wrong eye, it should say
“NPL”. But, I was wrong. Isaac could see! What a happy surprise! I was totally wrong! God is
Kibuye has really become a home away from home! We love it here! The community has been so welcoming and we know we have made friends for life. What a joy and blessing it has been to our family to be here for this short time!