Enlightening Eyes in Eswatini – Vol. 1.1

Update from Jono Pons, MD

July/August 2023

Prayer Requests

  • Favor in the efforts we are making to secure IOL’s for eye surgery in a local facility which is currently failing
  • Provision of funds for building a larger facility, outgrowing current Clinic and Surgical spaces very rapidly
  • Local Ethics Approval for vital Research Studies that we hope will improve quality of eye care in Eswatini
  • Protection and trouble-free outreach to Northern Cape of South Africa: I take a team from Eswatini for a week of surgery, flying with MAF, supported by Upington churches. We aim to do 75 surgeries in 4 days.
  • For the Gospel to be preached loud and clear throughout our visit to the South African Hospital, and God’s name to be glorified through renewed sight to those who have waited a long time for this blessing.
  • For my wife Helen, who as always provides me with generous support, daily care and meals, hospitality for the consistent stream of visiting colleagues, students, and guests. She cannot join me on this outreach.
  • Daily evangelism opportunities we have with our clients and the International Medical Students. They join my family for dinner and a devotion each Wednesday night. Pray that God’s message touches their hearts.
  • Evangelism to our Portuguese clients, many of whom are Muslim. Prayer that we can, as a team, learn Portuguese so we may directly minister to them and bring the Gospel and love of Jesus to them directly.



To our dear Friends, Brothers and Sisters in the Lord!

Thank you to COS for the wonderful conference: I had flown in via Atlanta and was graciously hosted by Bill and Carol Jarrett in their home, who were the first COS family I met 20 years ago when I attended my first ever meeting!) The conference was a great learning opportunity that is the base for excellent fellowship. Thanks to all for being so kind whilst I nursed viral conjunctivitis: I must have picked that up on the long flight.

From St Paul, I visited DMEI for grand rounds and time with Faculty and Residents at University of Oklahoma. Of course, they wanted to know more about MSIC and life in Eswatini. Their passion for our work is a blessing. Brad and Diane Farris hosted me in great comfort in Golding: It was my first time ever seeing tornado damage first hand; a new house; one side simply torn off, the other ok! The builders were already at work repairing it. We deal with extreme heat, storms and winds at times in Eswatini but I thank God we do not see any tornados!

Prof Farris kindly drove me to Lake Lawtonka, Lawton, for a few days with Jean Hausheer and Jim to experience the beauty of the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Reserve. The bison and longhorn cattle amongst the flowers and under the wide, open skies were a sight for even my sore eyes. By now the Viral conjunctivitis was unbearable and Dr Jean was called upon to help with another examination, to discover I had developed Membranous Conjunctivitis. Oh no! I will surely show more sympathy to sufferers now, regretting my glib words: “You will have 14 days of trial, then it will improve.” God humbled me to teach me deeper compassion.

Since June, when I was blessed to be with you, we have continued to see the abundance of God’s provision in our mission daily. We are very blessed to share His Love as we provide quality, equitable health services. Out of this calling come surprising testimonies: Like the Muslim man who challenged me as I completed his usual consultation: “Doctor you haven’t prayed for me yet!” May we not forget the power in our words, and hands.

Whilst I was away, a young man had been booked for my return, to do a Scleral Fixation IOL for his ONLY eye. I quickly saw him on the day of his surgery. He has Marfans Syndrome and a dislocated crystalline lens, with aniridia, glaucoma and fully cupped discs. An unease grew about continuing this course of action. In the back of my mind were the words of a mentor: “Don’t touch this eye!” I turned to his father and after explaining my reasons to cancel the long-awaited surgery, asked whether we could pray together. What a joy they had realizing that their doctor was filled with faith like they were. And after some time, with tears down our faces, we asked God to bring us his peace and His healing in His time. I know there is a testimony growing in that family and that our team has an important part to play in ministering to them as they navigate the challenges of supporting and loving their son.


Progress with Medical Mission Eswatini Projects

  • Growing Impact of EyeMobil and Laser Brought home from USA – Temporarily lost in transit, but found again by God’s grace! The microscope we had been using was not functional. Held in place with Duct-Tape! A non-Believer of Jewish faith, offered a new Microscope, and of course Stan’s EyeMobil was what we needed. Now Stan’s talents are being put to use in yet another country, Eswatini!
  • Orphans are an everyday part of our lives, following decades of harm done to families by the HIV epidemic. We are called to worship God through providing care to them. Concerned by the high levels of Otitis Media and glue ear in vulnerable children’s homes, God has led us to Dr Luke Shellenberger, a Texas based ENT with a calling to these very children. MME is now supporting Luke and his faithful wife Erin to provide care and surgery. Luke performed and paid for surgery for over 20 patients in 3 days. All are now hearing again!
  • Optometry and Clear Vision for All – One Sight are partnering with MME to provide free reading glasses, a major Vision Care Outreach in Eswatini and Optometry Equipment and Visual Aid Support to neglected Industrial Workers and their families. Please pray that this to come soon as the need is great and growing!
  • Listening to David Cooke’s presentation at COS, I was inspired. The pursuit of excellence is contagious, and I resolved to do better biometry after returning home. However, affordable IOL Master equipment is impossible to find in Southern Africa. But thanks to God’s brilliant grace, the day I started looking for one, I discovered an older advert for a used unit for sale in South Africa. The next miracle was that it hadn’t been sold. So, with the generous support of a COS Member, we have secured this unit to take our service to the next level! Improved IOL accuracy will increase the effectiveness of surgical care and outcomes.
  • Praise God for the return of an OCT from the repair workshop! We were gifted an old unit, that wouldn’t work: The Mother board had failed, and the company could not service it anymore. It seemed an impossible task, but through partnership with Pasture Valley Orphanage, the Lord gave us a gifted man who was able to service it! Now we have useful images! The diverse Family of God is a rich gift to us all.

Dr. Pons (right) with Dr. Stan Pletcher (left) and the eyeMobil “travel” microscope.

Progress with Grace Vision Developments

  • Grace Vision, GV, the name of our clinical services, is in 2 sites, serving a range of client’s and their needs
  • We Praise God for a new dedicated Finance/Accounts Officer to provide capacity & oversight in GV transactions and donations
  • Gods provision of a loyal client base in private services of people who can afford to Medical Insurance, providing financial security and a foundation for subsidized and free services to the needy
  • Prof Tunde and Family Visited from Belfast. An experienced Ophthalmologist with interest in Diabetic Retinopathy Screening from Belfast Northern Ireland, her and her family’s enthusiasm and care blessed our whole team. We shared a week of learning, interesting consultations, and very special Hungarian traditions. Prof Tunde was generous with her time in training technicians in DR screening, from all over Eswatini and continues to support health systems research to see it expand

Medial Mission Eswatini welcomes Medical Professionals, new Ophthalmic Trainees and Medical Elective Students who feel called to learn and share time, skills, and experience in Eswatini. If you are interested in visiting our growing services, please contact Mrs. Joanne Chesson (info@mme.partners) to discuss how you can share the joy of our mission and share God’s love in our communities. We love to expand the MME family!

Progress with Health Care Personnel Development

  • Dr Josh Cummings– In the past year, he has progressed from being an Ophthalmology Trainee to becoming a valued Ophthalmic Medical Officer and writes his primary exams for the South African Boards soon.
  • Dr Jeroen – A visiting Dutch Trainee Ophthalmologist with a previous career in Optometry. He and other international visitors bring innovative energy and perspectives for growth in our fast-expanding services.
  • I provide ongoing mentorship to Dr’s Josh, Dr Jeroen and Dr Rossouw, helping secure the safe, quality service at the national Eye Clinic to ensure that as we grow eye care, we are also maintaining local services.

Dr Josh teaching Rural Health Motivators about Basic Eye Care while on Sight flight Outreach in remote, disadvantaged communities with Swiss Mercy Air.

Heli-medicine allows us to avoid the delays and dangers of poor rural roads, to reach and care for up to 100 clients in 2 distant communities per service day.

Dr Josh and the team provide free visual assessments, free reader, advice, and referrals for further care to those with more complicated eye conditions. When staff are available, they also provide free GP care and essential medicines.

Progress with Other Key Mission Areas:

Pastoral Care, Outreaches, Visitors, Research etc.

  • Visiting Medical Elective Student – Currently hosting 4 from UK, 2 from Netherlands arriving soon!
  •  Glaucoma & Diabetic Retinopathy Research has passed international ethics approval, Eswatini pending.
  • Neglected South Africa Communities – With the help of a Discovery Grant from South Africa and the immense support of local public health, local and MME visiting medical staff and a deep commitment to reach underserved clients who have suffered preventable blindness for years, we have been able to achieve the following in the Northern cape where eye surgery is exceptionally limited in local hospitals:
    • Far exceeding the cataract surgery targets per visit – 220 Cataracts Expected, 380 completed.
    • Empowering and training of South African Theatre Teams and MME’s Trainees and Students who join
    • Spawning the outreach from a local district hospital by air to bring care to the most remote clients
    • Developing partnerships that strengthen healthcare in the Northern Cape to improve Public Eye Care
    • Changing lives in the Northern Cape by seeing 709 patients on 8 surgical outreach trips over 2 years
    • Our Christian partner, Caring4Sight Namaqualand help record and share the touching impact. To see tear jerking videos of restoring sight, restoring life, go to https://web.facebook.com/Caring4Sight

Sending you our love and warm greetings!
Jonathan and Helen Pons  

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