The lady behind the plane
Joanne “Jing” Crosby is an ophthalmologist and has worked with Orbis on the Flying Eye Hospital for many years. She managed the recent programme in Shenyang, working tirelessly to make it happen. Here, she speaks to the UK team about her role in the fight against blindness.
What’s the happiest story you can think of relating to the Flying Eye Hospital?
Aside from the success stories of the post-operative patients in many countries around the globe where we have had the Flying Eye Hospital programmes, it is always fun doing the “goodwill tours” - especially my experience in Hong Kong a few years back when I encountered some pre-school children who brought their piggy banks to donate their money to Orbis. It is amazing how we can touch so many lives from different walks of life and of course people of all ages.
Tell us something obscure but interesting about the aircraft that not many people would know.
As a staff member working for the Flying Eye Hospital, we do a lot of dirty work and heavy lifting of most - if not all - of our equipment and machines behind the scenes, and that maybe is one part a lot of people don’t know. Whatever our gender is or our position or role the Flying Eye Hospital, we all work together to prepare the plane before and after a programme. Whenever we have programmes we work more than 12 hours a day and each one of us help one another to make the project a successful one. It always looks so nice and smooth whenever we watch a recorded video of the whole programme after, but we don’t show all the sleepless nights and preparation to make everything work.
Which one story about the Fying Eye Hospital stands out most in your mind?
I have been with the Flying Eye Hospital for many years and it is kind of hard to pick a single story that stands out from the many experiences I have had. But there is one story I truly remember, about this very old man from a place in Nigeria when we had the Flying Eye Hospital program many years ago. According to the people who brought him to us, he was living by himself and had had no-one taking care of him since he became bilaterally blind for some time ago, due to a hyper mature cataract. He was very quiet and seemed sad since he had had no interaction with other people for some time. But the very next day after the surgery he was all smiles and he even said in his own language how beautiful I was when he saw me the first time after I took off his eye patch. It really touched my soul that even though we didn’t speak the same language, one could really feel the joy and gratitude of this person. That is the reason why I stayed with the Flying Eye Hospital and continued to do more programmes in different countries and serve people in need.
I loved the challenges I had to face in every programme and in every country because it made me a better person. Sincerely, my experiences taught me a lot about life and made my outlook on life more positive.
If you could sum up the work of the Flying Eye Hospital in one sentence what would it be?
It is one of the most rewarding jobs anyone could do and experience in their lifetime.
And in one word?