“I am very happy because I can see my mum proper now,” said eight-year-old Taonga, beaming with confidence. With the help of Latter-day Saint Charities and its partner Sightsavers, Taonga, who is from Malawi, gained sight after a bilateral cataract surgery.
Before his surgery, Taonga, like many with vision loss, struggled with basic tasks and loss of independence. Many students in his first-grade class ignored or teased him for his differences. Taonga would withdraw from activities and isolate himself from friends.
Halima, who lives in Malawi’s bordering country of Tanzania and is decades older than Taonga, had similar struggles. After developing cataracts in both eyes, she was blind for five years before receiving surgery from Latter-day Saint Charities and Charity Vision.
Little things like getting out of bed were difficult for Halima. “I just want to be independent again. I was [independent] my whole life, but now I feel totally useless,” she said prior to her surgery. She depended on her niece for full-time care, which required her niece to postpone school.
Latter-day Saint Charities, with the help of partners like Sightsavers and Charity Vision, seeks to find individuals like Taonga and Halima who have treatable vision loss. Cataracts (cloudy patches in the lens of the eye) affect nearly 100 million people but can be corrected. In 2020, Latter-day Saint Charities and its trusted partners have improved the quality of life for over 400,000 individuals with vision problems.
With the gift of sight, Taonga is grateful for his independence, schooling, and ability to serve his mom. “I will be looking forward to going to school without any support from anybody. I will be able to go and support my mum in the garden. And even in school, I will be able to write properly because now I am able to see,” he said.
With Taonga’s newfound independence, his mom, Zelina, has an improved quality of life as well. Zelina now has more time to develop her small-scale business selling corn in local markets.
Halima described her blindness as “being in a deep sleep, waiting to be woken up.” With her sight, Halima has felt freed from her burdens and has regained independence. She is grateful her niece can now go back to school.
Through donations, kind words, and acts of service, we can follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ and help those who are different from us or in need of a helping hand. To learn more about Latter-day Saint Charities vision initiatives, visit latterdaysaintcharities.org.