Saturday was a busy day devoted to 3 meetings regarding vision care. Dr. John Jarstad, the LDS Vision Specialist was in Seoul, Korea to present his research at an international Ophthalmology conference. He flew into Jakarta to attend a special dinner for his good friend Dr. TD, so we made use of his availability while he was here.
We started off with a meeting with CBM, a German NGO involved in worldwide vision care. They have a full time staff here in Indonesia and we met with Matthew to see if there were any ways for LDSC to partner with a larger, vision NGO rather than with individual universities. While our partnership with Gadja Madah University in Jogja is a good one, could we cast a wider net with CBM? Good question – we’ll see.
After that, we met with Dr. Suhardjo and Prysillia from GMU at the Shangri-La Hotel, where the dinner was to be held. (Wow – the Shangri-La is about a fancy a hotel as can be found anywhere in the world.)
We have a project with these folks to provide a special teaching microscope to the Opth. School, and also to provide funds for eyeglasses for poor children in the area. Since Dr. Jarstad was in town (and Dr. Suhardjo was to attend the dinner as well), we thought it would be good to have a face-to-face meeting to discuss the 2017 project.
Dr. S and Prysillia had taken the train from Jogja (a 10-hour trip) and arrived just before our meeting. After our 1.5 hour meeting, they said they could not stay for the dinner and were taking the train 10 hours back to Jogja. Such dedication…..
Dr. Jarstad was here to attend the dinner for LDS Charities to honor Dr.Tjahjono D. Gondhowiardjo (Dr. TD!) for his work in establishing the Indonesia Eye Bank (Bank Mata).
Dr. TD and Dr. Jarstad are very good friends and have known each other for almost 25 years and go way back. we kept Dr. Jarstad’s attendance a surprise and Dr. TD was totally shocked when he saw Dr. J!
LDSC is working with Bank Mata to try and have people sign up to donate their corneas when they die. But donating corneas (or any organ) is VERY unusual in Indonesia and culturally, there is a lot to overcome. Muslims are not quite sure how they feel about it (there is no rule against it) but it’s new and many people feel like they SHOULD be against it because it sounds morbid. Or, another objection has been “it’s God’s will that someone is blind – so who are we to interfere with God’s will?” Well, that’s easy to say until it’s them or a family member that needs a simple cornea transplant so they can see! There are only 50 donated corneas per year in Indonesia – so they buy most of the corneas from Sri Lanka and India. Sad they only get 50 a year when the demand is approximately 100,000 per year. So we are trying to help – for example, the American Embassy is having a blood drive on Feb 14 and is allowing us to set up a Bank Mata table to try and have people sign up! There are many LDS members who work at the embassy so they helped us talk to right people!
The dinner was outstanding with about 90 people attending. Dr. Jarstad spoke, as did Elder Meredith (Area Authority from Singapore). Subandriyo spoke and talked about a “King in ancient times who thanked the people for feeding him when he was hungry, visiting him when he was in prison, and clothing him when he was naked. And they asked when they had done these things and the King answered ‘when you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me’. Sounds familiar! Dr. TD does a lot of charity surgery as well as his promotion of the Bank Mata, so this award is very well-deserved!