As a father I’ve found myself on many occasions looking into the eyes of my sons and wondering to myself about their future. Who will they become, what will they be like, what will they achieve, how will they impact the world they live in. I look at them at these times and just marvel at the potential that they have.
Today I met 5 parents and their children who each told me in different ways of their dreams and hopes for their children. The difference was that they’d also at times gazed into their children’s eyes and seen something that left them concerned and frightened for their child’s future.
I met these families in the paediatric eye ward of a hospital of one of CBM Australia’s partners. Each of the children were there as patients for preparatory consultations in the lead up to surgeries that they’ll have tomorrow at the hospital.
The children each had different sight related impairments:
- one child had an eye tumour which would sadly mean the loss of that eye
- another had an injury that was the result of an accident playing with a stick
- another had a glaucoma issue that had led to the eye bulging and needing surgery to relieve the pressure in the eye
Lastly I also met two babies (2 months and 6 months of age) who both had congenital cataracts. Many people often think about cataracts as a condition that older people have – but congenital cataract (when children are born with them) is more of an issue here in Tanzania. Read more about Cataracts here.
The mother of Sharifu, who is 6 months old and pictured with a cataract in his right eye (to your left) above, shared the story of last Friday noticing a white clouding in Sharifu’s eye and instinctively knowing something was wrong – but not knowing what to do.
She described feeling a loss of hope and wondering what Sharifu’s future would hold if he were to lose his sight.
Fortunately Sharifu’s Grandmother had heard of this problem through a program that the hospital runs and recommended that they attend the clinic. Within days he’s been assessed and tomorrow he is scheduled to have the surgery he needs.
Tomorrow I’ll be gowning up and going into surgery while Sharifu and the other children we met today have their operations. We’ll then followup the next day to see them have their eye patches removed. So do come back tomorrow to see how the surgery goes.
PS: here’s a video recap of the day with a few more visuals of the eye ward including some of the other kids we saw.