Opinion  |  

Into the action from the sidelines

Seeing eye surgery inspired Liana Pantalone to look for what she could do

Have you ever witnessed something happen right before your eyes and wished you could somehow have been part of it?

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Perhaps to join in the celebration, change the outcome, or be part of making a difference?

At that point, the feeling of being a spectator became uncomfortable.

This happened to me in a remote part of the Philippines. Children and adults from some of the poorest communities were lined up ready to receive surgery that would restore their sight.

Standing about a metre away from the doctor, I watched his skilful hands restore sight – in just 12 minutes. Right then and there, I was witnessing someone’s life change right before my eyes, as their eyes were dramatically changed.

I could hear the woman who received the eye surgery, and the doctor translated her words to me, smiling: “She says she can see!”

At that point, the feeling of being a spectator became uncomfortable. I was in this part of the Philippines to witness first-hand what happens on CBM’s Miracles Day, an annual event supported by Australians who give to help sight-saving surgery for those living in poverty.

As I wished I could play a part in the beautiful moment happening in front of me and I was keenly aware of how it felt to be an observer – to just watch on. It was a feeling I’d describe as a humble jealousy of the impact that this one doctor was able to make in just minutes.

The love of Jesus encourages you to participate in making a difference in the world …

Quickly, though, I realised I don’t have to just stand there in such moments, feeling useless or less significant. Driving such a bold realisation was the love of Jesus Christ which, when tapped into, does the opposite of leaving you on the sidelines. It causes your attention to be drawn when you see people operating from a place of love, and inspires you to search out how to get your own talents and abilities involved.

The love of Jesus encourages you to participate in making a difference in the world – from the same place of being motivated by love that Jesus comes from.

There are many teachings in the Bible about the church (Christians) being the body of Christ, and each of its members having unique gifts. Each person who is filled with the love of Jesus can bring those gifts to the situations they find themselves in.

So as I stood in that surgery in the Philippines, I became aware that I could play my own special part in making a difference.

Taking the phone I had in my hand, I began taking photos. Lots of photos. Along with mental snapshots of every sight, sound and emotion that I experienced during those precious 12 minutes that a life was being transformed.

With every photo I captured, I began to ask… What more can I do? How do I use this to make a difference? I have a passion to write and communicate, so I knew that this is what I could offer.

Maybe I could inspire even one more person to take such a simple action …

I began sharing these life-changing moments all over social media. I knew if I could share what I have seen, and express the very impact of what had happened thousands of kilometres away from my home in Australia, that just maybe I could help others realise how real and lasting these sight-saving surgeries are.

That maybe I could inspire even one more person to take such a simple action that would make a difference in the life of someone in need … simply by using my own skills and passions.

You see, in that tiny makeshift surgery room in the remote hills of the Philippines, there was already a doctor fulfilling his calling. Also in that room was the perfect-fit opportunity for me to respond.

A moment in time where I could either freeze in intimidation – or choose to recognise the unique skills and abilities God had given me could be truly useful in my current setting.

So, whatever opportunities are before you, I hope you will be inspired. You might already have everything you need to make a powerful difference in this world. But if you are looking for an opportunity to act in love, you could join with me this Miracles Day and provide a sight-saving surgery to someone living with disability in poverty.

Visit CBM to learn more about Miracles Day or call 1800 678 069.

Liana Pantalone is Communications Officer at CBM Australia.

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