skip to Main Content

Episcopal Church support helps Yemen eye clinic treat all patients in need – Episcopal News Service

Patients wait outside the entrance to the Ras Morbat eye clinic in Aden, Yemen. Photo: Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf

[Episcopal News Service] An eye clinic in Yemen that not only attends to the visual needs of residents, regardless of their ability to pay, but also serves as a bridge between the Anglican diocese that runs it and the Muslim region it serves, will soon be able to expand its achieve with the help of the Episcopal Church.

The Ras Morbat Clinic is located on the grounds of the Church of Christ in the port city of Aden and is a ministry of Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf. Funds from parishes and individuals cover most operating costs, including the salaries of two Muslim ophthalmologists. With $90,900 from the Episcopal Church, however, the clinic can afford to hire a third eye doctor, who will also serve as the clinic’s medical director, for the next three years.

“Ras Morbat is the diocesan outreach mission,” the Reverend Bill Schwartz, retired archdeacon of the diocese, told Episcopal News Service. “And it’s not just about giving sight to the blind. It’s building bridges, something we’ve been doing now for 30 years. Because of the clinic’s care for people in the area, he said, Yemenis see what the church does “is a force for the good of their people”. Schwartz said the new eye doctor will be a Christian, which local Yemenis welcome and respect.

One of the ophthalmologists at the Ras Morbat Eye Clinic examines a patient’s eyes. The clinic provides eye care services to all who need them, regardless of their ability to pay. Photo: Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf

The clinic, which opened in 1996 and has specialized in eye care since 2002, offers services ranging from eye exams and eyeglass prescriptions to cataract surgery to anyone in need.

It was through Resolution B002presented to the 80th General Convention by retired Bishop James Magness, that Episcopalians support the clinic.

Magness became involved in the work of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf in 2017 after retiring as suffragan bishop of the church for armed forces and federal ministries. He has long pleaded for peace in the Holy Land and has led numerous pilgrimages there. It was because of his interest in the region that he was invited to learn more about the work of the diocese in Yemen. Previously, Magness had offered a resolution at the 79th General Convention in 2018 which called on the Church to take action to stop the spread of weapons in the region and to work with the diocese on long-term development.

Civil war broke out in Yemen in 2014, killing an estimated 244,000 people, forcing at least 4 million flee their homes and create the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the UN. While a ceasefire between the warring factions is now in place, the majority of Yemenis still lack food and depend on international aid to survive.

Ras Morbat exemplifies a ministry of presence in a war-torn region, which sets it apart from other institutions in the region, said Reverend Paul Feheley of the Episcopal Church Middle East. partnership agent. “It is a testimony of love to live what Christ commanded us in the Gospel,” he said.

The Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, which has 25 churches in eight countries in the region, is part of the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. The location of the clinic on the grounds of Christ Church “symbolizes our Anglican commitment to loving service to all, regardless of status or religion,” said Bishop Michael Lewis, a diocesan bishop since 2007 who became primate of the province. in 2019, in a message. on its website.

The Ras Morbat Eye Clinic (left) stands on the grounds of Christ Church in the city of Aden, Yemen. With support from the Episcopal Church, the clinic, a ministry of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, can afford to hire a third eye doctor. Photo: Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf

Local residents hold the clinic in high esteem and protected it, especially when fighting reached Aden in 2015, said Ven. Christopher Futcher, archdeacon of the diocese based in Cyprus.

“People are very aware that this is a Christian contribution for the local populations. During a period of civil war, it was the local people who prevented the vandalism of the church compound, while a number of other Christian sites were badly damaged.

While the clinic was only closed for two months at the height of the fighting, members of the church’s congregation, mostly English-speaking expatriates, left Yemen and the diocese withdrew clergy from the church for their safety. Now, however, the diocese plans to appoint a new priest for Christ Church soon, Futcher said, allowing worship services to resume there. Feheley said the Episcopal Church will also provide funding for this.

Magness and others who advocate for the work of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf are exploring ways to involve more people in ministries there, he said. In the meantime, it is important for Episcopalians to remember that the Yemeni people exist and need help.

“What’s happening in Gaza is really important,” Magness said. “We hear about the war in Ukraine, and that’s really important. We don’t want to lose sight of that, but we have lost sight of Yemen.

–Melodie Woerman is a freelance writer and former director of communications for the Diocese of Kansas.

Back To Top