Matthew had just turned one when his parents Steven and Lydia realised he wasn’t the same as other little boys.
“When he started to sit at the age of one year, we found out that he could not see well. It was the way he was looking – always as if angry. Yet he only squints to see clearly,” says Steven.
While other children his age were learning to walk and discovering the world around them, Matthew couldn’t even find things close to him. Later on, he would feel ostracised from other children.
“Other children keep asking what is wrong with him because he always looks so grim. Some of them fear Matthew because the look in his eyes is so unusual,” says Lydia.
Steven and Lydia found out that their son was one of the millions of children and adults around the world living with cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens likened to trying to see through a foggy windscreen.
If untreated, cataracts can lead to vision impairment and blindness. While surgery is safe and effective, many people with cataracts live in low income and developing countries where they cannot afford or access adequate medical care.
Sadly, this was the case for Matthew and his family in Uganda. Steven and Lydia starting putting aside a small amount of money each week towards the surgery, but it would take years to save the full amount.
When Matthew was four, he started pre-school, but he and his parents were heartbroken when he was sent home due to his poor vision.
“He couldn’t see anything on the blackboard. The teacher told us to take him back home until he could see better,” says Steven.
Steven worried about what type of life his son could lead if he couldn’t access sight-saving surgery.
“I am afraid that my son turns blind completely and won’t be able to go to school. Nobody can teach a child that cannot see. When he can see he can learn, find work and become an important member in the community.”
Stories like Matthew’s are the reason CBM established Miracles Day a decade ago – and why generous Australians have provided more than 300,000 Miracles since then.
A Miracle is a sight-saving surgery that restores sight for someone living with cataracts, by replacing the clouded lens with a clear artificial lens that generally lasts a lifetime.
Each Miracle costs just $33 – less than the price of two movie tickets.
A Miracle is the difference between a child like Matthew being marginalised in a community that does not have the resources to support and encourage him, becoming trapped in a life of poverty and disadvantage, and being able to go to school, develop skills, get a job, lead an independent life and support his family.
It’s all Steven hopes for his son.
“We wish our son could see well and find his purpose in life, so that we can support him to achieve it through education,” he says.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, there is a backlog of people in urgent need of cataract surgery.
That is why this Miracles Day, Thursday August 18, CBM is joining forces with Christian radio stations across Australia for a radio-thon. The goal is to inspire Australians to give 52,000 Miracle gifts of sight-saving surgery.
Each Miracle transforms the life of somebody like Matthew – giving them a brighter future and the chance to lead a fulfilling life.
Can you join us to give someone like Matthew the gift of sight by donating a $33 Miracle today? Visit www.miraclesday.com.au or call 131 226 to donate..
Article supplied with thanks to CBM Australia.
Feature image: Matthew from Uganda, age 4, struggles to see his drawings. (Supplied, CBM)