Rashed's Sight-Saving SurgeryThanks to Lions SightSavers Appeal

The following article is about Rashed who received sight-restoring surgery thanks to funds raised by Lions and our SightSavers Appeal.

Rashed’s mother had known there was something wrong with his eyes when he was just five years old. The family was eating by lamplight in the field when she noticed the light glinting off white flecks around his pupil. She regrets that because she couldn’t afford the costs of medical treatment, and didn’t think it was important, his sight has since got progressively worse.

He now has one large, shining cataract obscuring his left pupil, with a subtler ring of white flecks around his right. Rashed is now the main breadwinner for the family. His father died when he was just six and he was forced to drop out of school as his mother could not afford to keep him in education. Working at a biscuit factory, far from his family home, he now gets 13,000 taka [£129] a month, and keeps just 200 taka [£2] for himself for essentials. The rest he sends home.

Rashed does everything he can to emulate a man, yet he’s clearly still a young boy, his childhood largely stolen from him. He isn’t keen on the idea of school because the other children tease him and call him ‘kana’ (an insult used against the blind). When asked what was his dream for the future, he replies “I want to be able to take care of my family.”

When we go with Rashed to the hospital for the first of his two eye operations, the surgeon gently prepares him for what he can realistically expect - that he will never have perfect sight because he has lived with cataracts for too long. He will need to wear glasses for the rest of his life, but it will still be a dramatic improvement.

His bandage is removed the next day following his surgery, but Rashed keeps his eyes firmly shut as the nurses take their time to clean the eye – perhaps prolonging the moment, not daring to open them immediately to learn the result. When he does, he begins to look around, exploring the newly discovered detail in his environment.

When a visitor smiles at him from 10 to 12 feet away, he immediately gives a wry smile in return. Before his operation there’s no way he would have been able to see a person from that distance, let alone recognise a smile. Back at home, by the time Rashed has spent a day exploring his home environment and experiencing his restored vision, he’s had a change of heart. He definitely does want the second operation now, he explains, as he delights in being able to colour inside the lines of a colouring book he has been given. ‘How will I be able to see out of that side of my head otherwise?’ he exclaims. Seeing Rashed colouring in so joyfully is a reminder of how young he is. It suggests there’s still a chance he’ll return to school for the education he has so far entirely missed.

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