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February 8, 2008

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60 - CAPE GAZETTE - Friday, February 8 -Monday, February 11, 2008 CAPE LIFE Life-changing trip Eo Ethiopia inspires local doctor By Leah Hoenen Cape Gazette staff An elderly man, eyes cloudy with cataracts, sets off with his son to see the doctor for surgery to repair his eyesight. They don't get into a car and drive to an eye center or the local hospital. They begin to walk down rutted dirt roads and days later they will reach a small clinic. This is no rare case. With 71 million people, Ethiopia has fewer than 100 ophthalmologists. The country is two-thirds the size of Alaska. Infrastructure is limited at best and cars are a rarity. Everyone walks, no matter how far the distance. Ethiopians are working hard to modernize their country, and with the help of American doctors, their eye care. Dr. David Robinson of the Delaware Eye Institute recently spent a week at the Robert M. Sinskey Pediatric Eyecare Clinic. He was the third ophthalmologist to donate time to training the clinic's resident sur- geon. "This was the most amazing trip I've ever taken. When you think of all the things that we do, all the places we go to have a good time, to make our lives special - noth- ing compares to what I've just done," Robinson said. He came back with infectious enthusiasm for Ethiopia and its people, sharing their determina- tion to continue to better their country. The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery established the clinic in 2005. Ethiopian surgeon Dr. Kefyalew Regassa Gobena operates on a patient's eyes at the clinic in Addis Ababa as Dr. David Robinson of the Delaware Eye Institute observes and advises. Funded by donations and aided greatly by the volunteer time of Western-trained physicians, the clinic is one of a handful of facili- ties in the entire Horn of Africa where patients can receive a mod- em type of cataract surgery called phacoemulsification. Robinson fn'st learned about the Sinskey Clinic after treating an Ethiopian patient in the United States. He met that patient through the wife of his Duke University tennis coach and began to realize how prevalent eye dis- ease is in Ethiopia. Diseases that essentially do not exist in the United States run rampant through the African nation because basic sanitation and common drugs are Submitted photos Dr. Kefyalew Regassa Gobena of the Robert M. Senskey Pediatric Eyecare Clinic in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Dr. David Robinson of the Delaware Eye Institute stand outside the med- ical clinic established in November, 2005 by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. Dr. Robinson is the third ophthalmologist to visit the clinic to train Dr. Gobena. lacking. He says he had consid- ered humanitarian work for years before he decided to help this clin- ic. "With a lot of medical missions trips, you go and perform 100 or 200 cataract surgeries and come home. I didn't really know if I'd be doing anything truly beneficial when millions of people need help. In Addis Ababa, I was train- ing a local ophthalmologist who would be there permanently, and I knew that I could help make a dif- ference," he said. That local doc- tor makes about $1,000 a month. The people live in abject pover- ty, surviving on about $200 U.S. per year. Robinson described blindness as pervasive, and often caused by an infection that can be cured with a course of antibiotics costing less than $10. The Sinskey Clinic is in down- town Addis Abalta, the Ethiopian capital and the seat of the African Union. In Robinson's pictures, the city is one of contrasts. There are a handful of cars, but most people walk, some bent under enormous bundles of wood. Donkeys appear to be the pre- ferred method of moving goods. But, rising from the expanse of mud huts roofed with sheets of Continued off page 62 They're all walking that boulevard of broken dreams There is a tendency to feel do/n now that the Super Bowl is over and the football season is one for the history books. We aren't referring to the athletes, who have long ago left for serious reflection at Disney World or Hawaii, but rather the husbands, boyfriends and relatives who are now walk- ing that boulevard of broken dreams. And I'm not just being dramat- ic either. For many of these fans the depression is so bad the only relief is to sleep every night curled up in a fetal position with their giant foam hand, declaring they were No. 1. Others can barely contain their anger. They are furious at being deprived of the good times, which included watching brutal injuries end up strewn all over the field in high definition color and sound. And who doesn't want to relive the real physical pain of your own AROUND TOWN Nancy Katz gnashing of teeth and pulsating veins and arteries over those bad calls and unfair penalties. It's enough to make a sane per- son dump their precious fake team trophy, rings, blankets, helmets and underwear into the nearest dumpster where it will rot like day-old rye bread. So we can see that emotions are nmning high, which is why I hate to even bring this up. But there is another date loom- ing around the corner that could be more dangerous than tripping over a set of false teeth on a fresh- ly waxed floor. And that is Valentine's Day. This date takes precedent over anything else. So guys you can forget about circling the date on the calendar as a reminder to schedule your carburetor for a tune-up. You can forget about cir- cling the date for the start of the spring training baseball season. And you can forget about that tractor pull contest next week. You have been warned. Women will forgive almost anything, but miss this date and you will wish you were somewhere else, like a maximum-security cell at Riker's Island. Life as you know it will be worse than being abandoned on a barren planet as depicted in "Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan." Women want romance on this holiest of holy days for them. Don't let the image of modern woman as portrayed in print and media fool you. Women have planned on this day since kindergarten, when they scripted out those little cards with a cowgirl on the cover asking the kid next to her to "Be my Buckaroo." We've been cutting out hearts in white lace paper in our sleep. Now, in order to get in the right frame of mind, guys are going to have to use a little ingenuity to prepare for this date. I know that your wife or girlfriend is never going to have all the attributes of a starting quarterback. She can't have the same status and God knows she doesn't have the build for the long pass or even the quick turn-in routes. But if she were like a starting fullback or even a wide receiver, then you can understand the beau- ty of making her hsppy on game day, which for the purposes of this advice is going to be Valentine's Day. So as coach of the year, you are going to have to step up to the plate. Flowers are nice, but not those that come with a receipt from the allLnight convenience store. They should be in a vase. Look up the word in a dictionary. Candy is also good. However, stay away from the low-fat, no- sugar bars, since the picture on the wrapper may lead to a serious conclusion. Remember justifiable homicide is fast becoming a popu- lar defense today. Now, if you are a real cowboy or a NASCAR driver, none of the above applies to you. If you are not sure, just look in the .mirror.