It has taken six months for Shemsa, a single mother, to save up the $15.65 for the two-day train trip to Dar es Salaam, where CCBRT is located. It’s there that I met them for the first time.
Shemsa’s taken the trip in faith, hoping to get her son admitted for cataract surgery.
“I worry that my son could be blind for his whole life. That would have taken away his opportunities. Even the school sent him home.
I know people who are blind. Some get support, and they live a normal life. Those who don’t are living a very bad life.”
Shemsa and Shadhili are lucky, and are able to see a doctor. Dr. Sonia examines the young boy and lets them know that the prognosis is good. Surgery is scheduled for the next day, and it goes well.
By the time I see Shadhili again it’s the morning after his surgery and he’s back to his good-natured self, even before the bandages come off his eyes. He sits calmly on his mother’s lap as the nurse carefully loosens the tape and pulls off one bandage, then the other.
Shadhili looks a tiny bit bewildered. The nurse wipes his eyes with gauze, and then Shadhili begins to smile. Then is smile bubbles into a giggle as he realizes that he can see everything more clearly.
In minutes, he jumps down from his mom’s lap and reaches for my hand. I give him a pad of paper and a pen and he draws with me. I draw a fish, and Shadhili giggles and pretends to eat it. He laughs and chatters away with me, reaching up and tapping me on the face with the pen if I’m not giving him enough attention.
But my greatest joy was seeing the happiness and relief in Shemsa’s face as she gazed at her son. “I thank you so much for your support”, she says. Her dream for her boy to go to school is now within reach.