“The darkness is gone. The mist is all gone and I now don’t have to worry about bumping into things…”
For the last year, Paul (70) hasn’t been able to leave his hut alone. Always an active man, a farmer and a carpenter who built his own home, now he can’t even see to walk to the toilet.
Paul first noticed his sight problems several years ago. His vision deteriorated, first in one eye and then in the other until he could only just distinguish light and dark. “If you close the door, all I can see is light. I don’t see the details and the light isn’t glaring. It’s only when I sit outside that I start experiencing additional problems.”
Life’s been tough since Paul lost his sight to cataracts. His wife Jane has to tend their plot of land as well as care for Paul and their granddaughter. “When he told me he’d lost his sight completely, I felt overwhelmed. I asked myself, who is going to help me?” says Jane.
“I used to earn a living from carving cooking spoons, forks and walking sticks… Today, all I can do now is sit inside the house.”
Paul struggled to access treatment because he couldn’t afford the 7-hour journey to the nearest eye hospital. He and his wife feared he’d be blind forever, but thanks to CBM supporters he had sight-restoring cataract surgery at the CBM-supported Norton Eye Unit in Zimbabwe.
The morning after surgery, as Paul’s bandages were being removed, he said: “I woke up very early this morning, anxious because I was doubtful that my eyesight would be restored. Right now, I can see the woman who is waving at me. I can even see my son Chakanetsa!”
When Paul arrived home from the hospital, he felt like a new man. Imagine seeing the faces of your family again, and your home, after living in darkness for so long.
“The darkness is gone. The mist is all gone and I now don’t have to worry about bumping into things… I don’t see the blinding light anymore. It feels normal to now sit outside and see what is happening around the house… It all feels new and the last time I looked at my house and my garden, the weeds hadn’t grown this high.”
When Paul’s granddaughter, Anotidaishe, walks up to him, he can’t stop staring at her in wonder “I had her in my memory but she looks so different now.”
“I’d like to raise poultry and tend to my garden. I can see the orange tree I planted is missing and I want to revive my orchard.”