What would you do if you have been living with a genetic condition that took away your and even your children’s sight, then learned that it could be cured by an eye surgery procedure that you know you couldn’t afford? Would you give up hope? Transform participant Gloria and her children had such a condition and here’s their story of how they received help to restore their sight and how their healing forever changed their lives.
“When I was born, I was already in this situation. I could not see or identify a thing. All I could see was a dim white light. Whenever I wanted to go to another place that I was not familiar with, I needed someone to assist me to avoid falling down.” Gloria told our staff this when they visited her bamboo stilt house in Palawan. She has a genetic condition that caused cataracts and blindness, a condition that also affected her mother, two siblings, and five of her six children.
We also talked with Benjie, her 20-year-old son, about dealing with this condition his whole life. “I entered kindergarten when I was young, but I didn’t continue my studies as I was afraid to go to school back then because I was always bullied because of my condition,” Benjie said. “After waking up in the morning, I would come and sit at our door, hoping that when I opened my eyes one day the stain that blocked my vision would be gone. But after opening and closing my eyes a few times, nothing would ever happen.” He and his brothers would go with their father to work in the field but had to be led by the hand to get there.
The family got their hopes up many times as different people promised to help them get eye surgeries. “My children and I had been to the barangay clinic (local health clinic) several times, and they told us what our condition was. There is a cure, but because of our family’s financial situation, we could not pay for our treatment. There have been many occasions when people would come and ask about our conditions and even take pictures, but unfortunately, the help that they promised didn’t come,” Gloria said.
This all changed when a local pastor invited Gloria and Benjie to join the Transform program. Besides teaching them regular livelihood, values, and health lessons, the trainers referred their cases to the medical case coordinator. Benjie was excited that they might have a chance at an operation. “I really wanted to become a normal person. Other people always said that I am special, but being special is very lonely because people like me don’t have close friends since I am different from the rest of them,” Benjie said.
Gloria and Benjie were delighted to hear that not only they but their whole family were eligible for help! Seven of them traveled to the Palawan Eye Center together to have their eye surgery. Although all of them were nervous, they joked with each other to keep their spirits up.
After the surgeries and recovery, they could see! Gloria can now do chores and help her husband farm with confidence. “After the surgery, I can walk on my own without needing the assistance of other people whenever I want to go to other places!” Gloria added.
Benjie’s life is also very different after the surgery. “After our eye surgery was done, I told my mother that I really wanted to establish and run my own business. I wanted to apply the ideas and tips that I learned during the Transform program. Before, I couldn’t because my condition hindered me from doing it,” Benjie told us. “I now have a small variety store that I personally manage and I am really happy about it. Although it doesn’t have complete products and merchandise, I know God will help me achieve my dreams because now I am slowly becoming and living like a normal person.”
Thinking back on all that has happened in the past few months, Gloria told us, “No matter what happens in our life, no matter how hard it may seem, we must never lose hope. As long as we are alive, there will always be hope.”
“Thank you for helping our family. If it weren’t because of you, we would not be able to experience how to live and be able to see. May God bless you.” –Gloria
Along with Gloria, we would like to thank all of our donors who faithfully contribute to our Medical Mercy Program. Your generosity has brought new hope and health to those in need, and we are grateful. If you are interested in bringing hope to others like Gloria and Benjie, visit our donate page.