One day, a young man brought his sister to a CFC-supported organization campus, seeking help for her poor eyesight. He found himself being helped, as well.
In a recent intensive surgical launch of comprehensive and restorative eye care services, 22-year-old Ndumiso accompanied his 7-year-old sister, Ebenezer, to the organization’s campus in central Swaziland, Africa.
“My father told me to bring her, because she doesn’t see well,” said Ndumiso. “I knew my sight was failing quickly, but doctors had told me they could never make me see again.”
Ndumiso continued: “I heard about [the] organization and that many people were being helped. Inside, I wondered if this was a chance for me, too. But I didn’t have an appointment. Then I found out I didn’t need one.”
A juvenile diabetic since age 14, Ndumiso was blind in one eye due to a dense cataract, and another cataract was forming in his other eye. “I could only see a little in front of me, and it was getting harder and harder to see colors.”
His sister Ebenezer suffers from vernal keratoconjunctivitis, a severe allergic inflammation of the eye. The condition might disappear when she reaches 18 years old, but will cause near-blindness until then.
During their visit, Ebenezer received an injection in each eye, which improved her eyesight for two or three months. Her big brother received new hope and renewed joy when the large cataract was removed and his eyesight restored.
Before the surgery, however, he was nervous. His great-grandfather and grandmother each had unsuccessful eye operations. “When they came home, they were blind. Two generations! Who knows what will happen to me?” he mused the evening before his surgery. “But this is a wonderful opportunity that I must try.”
When the eyepatch was removed the morning after surgery, Ndumiso’s instant grin and enthusiasm at his new sight spread to all those watching. He jumped up and hugged the man whose deceased brother had donated funds for the microscope necessary for the cataract program – and for his surgery.
It was a joyous moment, as were those in the following hours when Ndumiso marveled at his good fortune. “I have no words to thank everyone I now see around me who has made me see again.”
Ndumiso now lives with his father and mother and four younger siblings. Before his surgery, he graduated from high school but could not see well enough to work at most jobs. “Before I just dreamed, but now I can live out my dreams,” he said.
“We try to put ourselves in each patient’s place,” said the organization’s co-executive director. “If I were blind I would say, ‘Please, please make every effort. The worst that can happen is I will still be blind. But if the best happens, imagine the change in my life!’”
Ndumiso applied for a job with the organization that brought back his sight, interviewed, and was on the job two weeks after his miraculous recovery.
A personable young man who’s fluent in English, Ndumiso is now training in the organization’s surgical pre-op and eye departments at outreach centers.
“It’s a big challenge to work here,” he said with a smile that remains on his face most of the day. “We need to be very cautious.”
Those cautions, he explained, range from talking to patients getting ready for surgery and explaining what will happen, to gathering and documenting all information.
And how is Ndumiso handling his juvenile diabetes?
“When my condition was discovered eight years ago, I was so sad and very angry. I wondered why this would happen to someone at such a tender age,” he explains. “I accept my diabetes now. And I can see once again!”
The organization’s medical staff is now helping Ndumiso manage his diabetes, including giving him daily insulin injections and monitoring his blood sugar levels and eating habits.