Samoutou Family Blog
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About This Blog...

Family of 5 
from Gabon, Hong Kong and the UK   

Living in Impfondo,   
Republic of Congo   
Since April 2012 

Blog by Joyce the mum, 
Homeschooling novice, 
Eye Charity founding doctor / director. 
Reluctant domestic goddess 

Passionate about sashimi, 
helping people see 
physically and spiritually,   
and Jesus   


Please do give comments and feedbacks so that we can improve the way we communicate with you!

P.S. This is the personal blog of the Samoutou family  
(Views our own)  
Please contact us to subscribe to New Sight official newsletters.  

Thank you for your support! 


Recent Posts

Newsletter October 2012: Developmental Milestone Edition
October 15, 2012

Samoutou News October 2012: Developmental Milestone Edition


MBOTE (Hello in Congolese dialect)!   Welcome to our Developmental Milestone Edition!  Please come with us as we journey our significant never-the-same moments!





Guess who just won the international eXcellence in Ophthalmology Vision Award (XOVA) and received a 50 000 Euros project grant?  And guess who received the Certificate in Community Eye Health with HONOURS?  Well done New Sight and Henri (big pat on big heads)! 


Guess what else have we got?  We’ve got the POWER!  Solar panels and Solar Fridge are up and running!  Thank you Solar Afrique for donating your precious time and skills, literally lighting up our lives!





Every four years, all the key players including charities, field workers, researchers, funders and suppliers for international eye health gather for a conference for Vision 2020, the World Health Organisation global initiative to eliminate all avoidable blindness by the year 2020.  This year, Henri’s abstract was accepted for presentation.  We agonised for a long time if we should go due to the expenses and the timing as we were just beginning to settle in Congo.  We felt that the trip was important for New Sight. So we took a deep breath and wiped our family’s emergency savings that were reserved for well, emergencies such as family illness.  A month later, an amazing lady in Hong Kong asked us for our personal bank details as she wanted to give, not to New Sight, but to our family.  Without knowing the costs of the air-tickets, she transferred exactly the same amount!  We marvel at God’s provision!


To travel to the conference in India, we needed our passports back from Congolese immigration where our long-term visas should have been processed two months before.  To cut a long story short, Immigration lost our passports.  Instead of trying to find them and troubleshoot so that this does not happen again, we were advised to be patient and to ‘accept that this is how administration in Congo worked’.  Immigration lost our passports, and then some of its staff asked us for money under the table for not producing our IDs!  After a few days of our own painstaking private investigations and praying on our knees the rest of the time, they miraculously found our passports four days before our flights and gave us FREE 1-year visas!  Whilst this experience was unpleasant, we gained valuable insights into the culture and government of the country that we are serving.  It really is telling of the mentality here that our 2-year-old daughter is convinced that there is a gentleman by the name of ‘Attendez!’ which is the French order form of ‘Wait!’


At the conference, we worked from 5am until 12 midnight every day but we did not mind one bit!  We learnt so much through the updates and exchange of experience.  Our stand provided a great platform to raise profile for our charity, for networking and collaborating.  We were amazed by the doors opened to several important meetings.  Amongst them was a meeting with the doctor in charge of overseeing Vision 2020 in Africa.  He is a very experienced giant in the eye health world whom we look up to very much.  His first words to us were, ‘You know what your problem is – you have picked the wrong country!’  This was echoed by so many who said, ‘You cannot crack Congo!’  We began to see why we were not getting the funding and support that we need from international charities and businesses, and why nobody else wants to give eye care in Congo: Many only want to work with English-speaking countries; Many were put off by the logistical and bureaucratic difficulties of Congo; Many want to concentrate on densely populated areas where one can benefit from economy of scale.  We live in a world where we including donors want fast results and value-for-money.  Because of that pressure, the people who live in the world’s hardest to reach, to work with and to ‘crack’ places are at risk of being neglected.  We cannot bear to see people suffer because they live in ‘the wrong country’.  How can we say that because it will cost more money, time and efforts, a person cannot have his sight?  We are passionate about the Right to Sight for all. We now realised that our destiny is to help the most vulnerable, needy and abandoned people of this world.  We want to stand up and be a voice for the ‘orphaned countries’.  A part of us thinks, ‘How can we think that we can do what others think are too hard to do?’  But we must do our best.  And we believe that together, we canThe same doctor who told us that we chose the wrong country came back to encourage us the next day. He said, ‘Don’t ever stop dreaming.’  We are now working with him to pioneer a way to deliver sight to the neglected.





Eye Service:


We continue to witness the desperate need for eye care every day.  It is not easy to practise without our tools and medicine.  Even though our equipment isn’t here yet, we started emergency surgery.  For example, a 2-year-old boy had a huge corneal laceration following an accident.  Henri had no choice but to use a colposcope (a weak microscope for gynaecological examination) to operate on him!  We marvel that despite the suboptimal circumstances, the little boy recovered rather miraculously!




All 8 of our shipments had cleared from customs in record speed!  We expected to pay about 7-15% of the value of our goods at the port and we are thrilled that we ended up paying just over 5%!  We paid for our 110 boxes including the 400kg microscope to be flown 2 months ago from the capital to our town.  Sadly, these much needed supplies are still stuck in the freight warehouse.  To give you an idea of the difficulties, the ‘reasons’ for the delay thus far include ‘Broken airport radar’, ‘Preparation for President’s visit is a priority’, ‘Cloudy weather’, ‘Special military meeting’, ‘Person who can authorise just been named Minister of Defence’ and ‘Cannot find the Responsible person’.  There are no roads to our hospital.  We may try use boats but the conditions are not ideal for delicate and fragile equipment. 




We are working on the second draft of our building!  We are thankful for local architects who are donating their time and skills to us!  It is very exciting to see the ‘Grand Design’ coming together!






1. Please help us find someone to help us with homeschooling and childcare (Teaching experience ideal but not essential; minimum 3 months):


2. Please buy tickets and help us find business sponsors for a fundraising concert in HK (Advert and Acknowledgement deadline 24 Oct):   


3. If you are from IslandSchool or DGS families in HK, please sign up for a fundraising team trek on 10 Nov:


4. Construction: We need to a) get all the necessary government paperwork to start.  It’s been difficult; b) find someone to supervise the project (Estimate: 6-9 months) and good builders c) raise finances


5. Shipments: Thank God they are cleared from customs! Let’s pray that they get to us safely as soon as possible so that we can help our patients before it is too late and their sight becomes too far gone


6. Please take a look and help us share the hospital’s desperate need for manpower / visiting helpers:


7. Please pray for wisdom, maturity, patience and strength for us.  It is not always easy to still be living out of suitcases, dealing with flight cancellations (we’ve been stuck in the capital for over 2 weeks) and learning to adapt to a very different way of life.  Please pray for our children’s development and education, and for them to learn Lingala quickly so that they can make new friends


8. Praise God for the wonderful support and incredible progress!  We need to continue to fundraise for our construction project and ongoing expenses:  Let’s pray that together, we can do what some say will cost too much, take too long, and cause too much frustration and hard work.  Together, let us be a voice and a hand for the needy and neglected!


There is an African saying, ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ The answer is, ‘One bite at a time, with a lot of help from a lot of friends’.  We really cannot do it without you.  Thank you so much for your support!


Love, Joyce, Henri, Cherissa, Ezra and Karis

Filed under: Newsletter


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