Stories from the Mission Field

June 2024

Sierra Leone: Called to give Eyesight

There have been many difficult times in the more than 40-year history of the eye clinic in Lunsar/Sierra Leone: The civil war (1991-2002), the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and the corona pandemic affected the hospital's operations. The former missionary hospital had an impact beyond the country's borders. In recent years, the ophthalmology department has been vacant. Now an ophthalmologist has taken up her post. We tell you how this came about.

The eye clinic in Lunsar is one of three clinics supported by the Sierra Leone Baptist Union. The combination of professional ophthalmology, humanitarian aid, preaching the gospel and compassion for the people meant that patients from all over the country and from the neighboring countries of Guinea and Liberia came to the Baptist Eye Hospital in Lunsar to have their eye diseases treated. However, without specialist staff and after several crises in the country, the clinic lost its importance.

A special journey through life

But this changed in 2022, when Dr. Dioah Kismatu had just finished her medical studies. She received a lot of valuable support along the way.

She was given a focused and determined nature in the cradle. Medicine too. Her father is a gynecologist and her mother a real estate entrepreneur. Both took great care to ensure that Dioah constantly improved her school performance. After she finished school, she received a scholarship to study medicine in Cuba at the age of 16. She studied general medicine in Spanish for seven years.

Far away from her family, she did her best and worked with enthusiasm. Her studies were eye-opening, as she says. It enriched her. She was particularly influenced by the approach she was taught: saving lives and having a heart for people. This strengthened Dioah's desire to return to Sierra Leone. She wanted to use all the knowledge she had acquired for the benefit of her fellow nationals and give something back to them.

Back in Sierra Leone

When the young woman was back in her home country and working as a junior doctor, she found the lack of medical care in Sierra Leone a hard arrival in reality. There are only five specialists in the field of ophthalmology in Sierra Leone, out of a population of around 8.8 million people.

Once again, she had someone at her side who supported her. Dioah's mentor in ophthalmology, Dr. Jalikatu Mustapha, invited her to take part in the first corneal transplant in her country. Afterwards, she reports enthusiastically: "Witnessing a woman regain her sight after more than two decades of blindness touched me deeply. It strengthened my determination to study ophthalmology and to be part of such life-changing experiences."

It was also her mentor who pointed her towards the position at the eye clinic in Lunsar. Now the last doubts about whether further training to become a specialist was the right path had vanished. The training is financed by EBM INTERNATIONAL and ensures competent care for patients.

Dioah is now in her second year of specialist training and is putting her whole being into it: "I look forward to working with others to ensure specialized and affordable eye care for all people in Sierra Leone."


This blog post was published in a longer version in our MAGAZINE 1/2024.