“Medical health is a right for every child even when some parents do not know or have decided to ignore this fact”. As small as they are Tamfu Amihayu Ngwani, 13 years old and his 6 year-old younger brother, Ndukong Mustapha made this statement after living with cataract condition from birth. They were born in Taku village in Donga Mantung Division to Mr./Mrs. Tamfu Patrick who are now resident in Magba, Noun Division in West Region. Their parents do petty-trading and small jobs around to sustain their home.
The mother explained that the children gradually lose their vision as they grew up. The education of the children was hampered with the difficulties they faced in learning and studying and even socializing with their peers. According to Madam Mary class 3 teacher in the CBC Bilingual Primary School Magba, “I usually put in extra hours to closely work with Amihayu for him to be able to understand his lessons due to his poor vision despite the fact that he seats on the front seat closer to the board,” she explained.
The children express the challenges they experienced in the past, “In class, we hardly saw what the teacher wrote on board. We couldn’t do our house chores normally, and when walking around, people mock at us because we can’t see,” lamented Mustapha.
The story of these children took a positive turn when the screening team of the Ngounso Baptist Health Center identified them in the CBC Bilingual Primary School Magba. They were referred to Mboppi Baptist Hospital with recommendation for surgery. When news of their operation got to them, they excitingly told their school mates on their joy and hope to one day regain their sight.
Given that their parents were not financially viable for the surgery they gave little attention to the medical report and preferred to manage through with the little vision that the children had. The delays kept the situation deteriorating until the intervention of the Empowerment Disability and Inclusive Development (EDID) program through the Community Based Rehabilitation Services of the CBC Health Services. In line with her objective to improve on the quality of life for children with disability, the EDID program spent 350.000 FCFA for the surgery of both children which took place in Mboppi Baptist Hospital
After the diagnosis, the Ophthalmologist, Dr. Kamdem Elvis explained that both children had bilateral cataract which is not very common in our setting given that they are from the same parents. He noted that it may be as a genetic cause. “I regret the delay of the cataract in the children which has greatly affected their vision especially that of the elder brother, Amihayu,” Dr. Kendem underlined. He clarified that the only treatment of cataract is surgery, which he said, was supposed to have be done on the children before now.
The successful surgery that lasted for close to 2 hours for both children was the magic that made two brothers to see and appreciate the beauty of the world for the first time. The surgeon encouraged the parents to respect instructions so as to ensure the best outcome of the surgery.
For the first time in 13 and 6 years, the children felt as if they were in a different world as they experienced an improved vision. The smile on their faces tells of children who had longed to regain their sight. The excitement was the same back in the community where people saw them struggle through with their sight.
The uncle of the children could not hide his feelings as he expressed appreciation to the CBR team, the EDID program and the Liliane Funds for giving back sight to the children. He rejoiced that this will improve on their educational life and social participation.
These children are just few in the hundreds of children that the EDID program has provided interventions to in the community. Community members continue to express gratitude to the EDID program of the CBC Health Services for judicious use of funds from the Liliane Foundation.