- Julia Francombe
In 2012 I was at a Samburu wedding, at a manyatta nestled in the hills behind Ol Donyiro.
While I was sitting chatting to the mamas I noticed an old man under a tree being led home by a small child. He was hunched over and holding a stick, the child carefully selecting a path without to many rocks.
I went back the following day and introduced myself. Whilst his wife made me tea I asked him what was wrong with his eyes. He said one day he just went blind and had been blind for 7 years. He dreamt of seeing the children playing in the sun but had forgotten what it was like to be able to see.
He told me the worst thing about being blind is he couldn’t see his goats and didn’t know the faces of any of his grandchildren.
Ole Sempele our eye surgeon was operating in a nearby area and after an hour I eventually persuaded this old guy to get in the car with me. He didn’t believe that it was possible to get his eyesight back and was furious at the thought of getting in a car – the last time he had been in a car was in the 1940′s, before he was a warrior. He was arrested by the colonial police and had never been in a car since.
We made a deal that if he came with me in my car and we weren’t able to help him then i would buy him a goat. He told me if i gave him his eyes back that he would buy me a goat.
So we made the deal and he got in to our car, grumbling and moaning all the way.
We established he had cataracts in both eyes.
Terrified to leave the safely of his manyatta one of our trust warrior scouts Musmar agreed to chaperone him – promising to stay with him before during and after the operation – someone to safely return him home. He was terrified to leave the safety of his manyatta and the child who had become his helper.
He agreed to have the surgery in one eye.
There is nothing quite like lying down on a table blind and sitting up able to see. It is the best moment ever!
The team could barely control his excitement and get a patch and bandage over the eye – as he danced around, jumping and singing around the nurses!
Musmar, who had now become a close friend checked in on him a couple of years later and this is what he said…..
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