Roberts helps African children see

Published 12:02 am Saturday, October 2, 2010

Dr. Ben Roberts has made it his life’s mission to “practice his faith as he practices his craft,” said Dr. Jim Krudrop as he introduced Roberts as the second Andalusia High School Outstanding Graduate winner.

On Friday, Roberts, a 1991 graduate, along with Charles G. Brooks Sr., was named as one of two Class of 1948 Foundation’s 2010 outstanding graduates. Roberts, who graduated as salutatorian of his class and Phi Beta Kappa from Birmingham Southern College, is a man who wears many hats – father, husband, ophthalmologist and missionary.

“I believe we are all on a journey in this life,” Roberts said. “For me, it began in Andalusia. I’m thankful for the people and organizations who have had an impact on my life; my parents; the small town school system that had a way of teaching life lessons outside the classroom; my church and my youth director; the leadership of the local Boy Scout group.”

Roberts spoke of how both his love of medicine and his love of the Lord led him to his current occupation – ophthalmologist and missionary at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya, where he and his family have lived since 2006.

It’s a position that allows him to serve at one of the largest mission hospitals in Africa. It is also a location where he can provide both primary health care for the physical bodies of an estimated 1 million people in the region, as well as spiritual health of many.

He spoke of the Bible story where Jesus gave a blind man back his sight.

“I’m not spitting in the dirt and rubbing mud on people’s eyes,” he said. “I’m just trying to use the gift God gave me to restore the vision of those that I can. For them, I’m convinced that is the work of God displayed in their life.”

Roberts interned at Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham; completed his residency with UAB and Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital, and from 2003 until 2005, did a fellowship in vitreoretinal disease and surgery retina consultants in Birmingham.

At present, he and his family are at home for a year in Alabama, where he is associated with Retina Consultants of Alabama.

John Croft, one of the many who nominated Roberts for the award, wrote, “Ben Roberts is an extraordinary doctor, but more importantly, he is an extraordinary human being. His life is a model of discipline and commitment. We honor ourselves by recognizing our ties to him.”

Suan Salter presents Ben Roberts with his award. | Stephanie Nelson/Star-News