Grandmother sees grandchild for the first time

Stories | July 26, 2023 | Author: CBM Campaign Manager, Mariska Meldrum

Huddled inside her small store, made of bamboo walls and a corrugated iron sheet roof in a remote village in the Philippines, 63-year-old Josefina holds tightly onto the hand of her daughter-in-law Suzette as she welcomes outreach worker Charity into her home. 

Hearing her grandson playing, Josefina, who has been blind for the last four years, turns her head towards him, tears glistening in her eyes. Josefina’s voice breaks as she tells Charity that she would love to see her three-year-old grandson Quinn for the first time.

Charity, program manager at the Eye Hear Foundation, CBM’s partner in the Philippines, gently takes Josefina’s hand and comforts her. 

Josefina tells Charity that until four years ago, she worked hard as a cook in Manilla, priding herself on being independent and able to do “all the chores that a man could do”.  Then she noticed her eyesight becoming increasingly blurred, making it difficult to see clearly.  One day, she woke up in darkness.

“I can’t identify the morning or evening because it was all dark,” says Josefina.

Josefina didn’t know what caused her vision loss, assuming it was from years of working hard and not getting enough rest. Unable to live alone, she moved back to her village, to be cared for by her son and his wife.

Unwilling to be a burden on her family, Josefina doesn’t like asking her children or neighbours for help.  Once, she visited a doctor and was told she needed eye surgery, at a cost equivalent to 100 sacks of rice.  Knowing this was more than she or her children could ever afford, Josefina decided to simply endure life being blind. 

“I was praying every Sunday morning. At dawn I would go to church alone to pray to God for my condition and by God’s grace I did not encounter any accident,” Josefina explain to Charity. 

Today, Charity is visiting to tell Josefina that she can have free cataract surgery in two days’ time, at the EYE hEAR Foundation’s eye clinic . CBM recently provided funds to build an operating theatre at the clinic.

Josefina is excited, but nervous about how painful the surgery will be.  Charity assures her that she will be with her every step of the way and will be with her during the surgery.

True to her word, Charity is beside Josefina as she is led into the operating theatre.  Ophthalmologist Doctor Reden removes the cataract clouded lenses in Josefina’s eyes and inserts new artificial lenses, which will last a lifetime.

Less than 15 minutes later, Josefina is led out of the operating theatre.  Blinking her eyes, the reality sinks in that she can see again.  The emotion overwhelms Josefina, and when Doctor Reden leaves the operating theatre, she grabs hold of his hand and repeatedly thanks him.

“I think her vision will be very good… both eyes are having a good retinal reflex and so we will see with the visual acuity testing tomorrow morning… she’s very happy already,” Doctor Reden comments.

The next day, after Doctor Reden examines her eyes and an eye-health worker demonstrates the use of post-surgery medication, Josefina is ready to head back home with her daughter-in-law. But first, there’s a special person she’s been waiting to see for the first time – her young grandson.

“My grandchild looks like his father!” she exclaims happily.

When Charity comes to say goodbye, Josefina recognises her voice and is happy to finally be able to see the woman who has helped her so much.

“It’s a blessing for me every time I help people, and bring them for surgeries, because right after the surgery, they say… before I only knew you by your voice.  But now I can see you,” Charity explains.

Josefina says a few words of thanks before she departs.

“I prayed and I really prayed hard for the surgery to be a success.”

“A big thanks firstly and mostly to God because my eyes are very clear now.  My two eyes are so clear.”

“I will never forget this moment and all of you who helped me.  I will remember this forever. Thank you so much for helping me.”

an elderly woman with an eye patch on her right eye with a thumbs up

You can give someone like Josefina the miracle gift of sight for just $33.  Donate today

CBM acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

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