Dear Friends in Christ at Jamaica Outreach Program,
What better time than Christmastime to tell you my very own story about one of the greatest gifts anyone could ever receive, the gift of sight.
Imagine being in a class sitting at the very front and still unable to see the blackboard clearly. To view the board you would have to close one eye like a Cyclops and continuously tilt and turn your head to see what was written there right in front of you. Now imagine doing this routine continuously from Grade 1 to Grade 12 while all the time your vision is getting worse every year in spite of a change of glasses regularly. This was me, Leonard Phillip Taylor, all the way through my elementary and high school years. Eventually I was diagnosed with a stigmantation and keratoronus. My cornea was cone shaped and it was becoming difficult for light to pass through it. I was going blind in my left eye.
Even though I was visually impaired, I still made the matriculation to attend college at the University of the West Indies at the Mona, Kingston Campus. However, due to my visual impairment, I could only take two courses instead of the five courses required for a full time student. I felt incomplete and a bit discouraged. It seemed as if I was now walking the plank to nowhere.
But all was not lost. God wanted to turn my life around. I got to meet Sally VanBuskirk at St. Joseph’s hospital in Jamaica . She was referred to me by Dr. M. MacIntosh who was a liaison between the Jamaica Outreach Program (JOP) in Naples, Florida, and St. Pius X Parish in Jamaica. My doctor told me “God has worked it out so I must not worry about my problems.”
I was delighted at the thought that I might be able to see better. The necessary arrangements were made for me to go to Naples where I met Dr. Zimm who operated on me for free. Finding a cornea transplant was facilitated by the Bonita Springs Lions Club. My accommodations for my new home away from home were made possible by Dr. Al Kerns and his wife Ann. They took me in, fed me and cared for me. They have now become my new relatives. I am so thankful to them, the VanBuskirks, the Bonita Springs Lions Club, and the JOP.
After my surgery and recovery, I returned to the University doing five courses per semester. I got a part time job at PKF Charter Accounts and my GPA rocketed to 3.67, up from 2.54 before my surgery! I now have a strong zeal for school and will complete my studies in May of 2012.
I want to express my sincere gratitude to all who were involved in making my surgery a success. Please continue to support the JOP in its work in Jamaica.
May the year ahead be as blessed for you as it was for me last year. God Bless you all.