Overseas disability charity CBM is offering its supporters the chance to follow – in real time – the life-changing story of a young man living in rural Cameroon as he prepares for and undergoes a sight-restoring operation, removing congenital bilateral cataracts.
28 year-old Desire is a devoted father of four who lives with his fiancée, children and widowed mother in rural Cameroon. But cataracts have left Desire almost completely blind – and it's hard build a secure future for your family if you can barely see.
Cataracts cause half of the world's blindness – even though the condition can be treated with an operation costing as little as £24.
For many families living in poverty, like Desire's, this treatment is out of reach, leaving them needlessly blind. Cataracts have gradually robbed Desire of his sight, forcing him to abandon his training as a carpenter. Now he can barely see to farm the family's plot of land, leaving the family struggling to grow enough crops to eat and sell to earn an income.
Desire's low vision makes it hard for him to get around safely, farm or do chores at home, such as chopping wood. He says: 'My challenges of poor vision live with me and get in the way of prospects and opportunities.' He can no longer play football with his peers, work effectively on his farm, read and play with his children. As committed Christians, Desire and his family regularly pray and read the Bible together but he now relies on his fiancée to read as he cannot make out the print.
His family fears for his safety when he goes out. In the words of his mother: 'Each time he goes out I am afraid and pray for his safety. As a mother the fear never goes away, knowing that he cannot see well.' His fiancée shares his mother's fears: 'When crossing the road he cannot see vehicles coming from afar and relies on his sense of sound more. I get scared that he can be knocked down by speeding vehicles. On the farm as well, a snake can bite him, especially if he does not see it coming. I am concerned about his safety each time he leaves home.'
In 2014, his father took him to the nearest hospital. Upon examination, the doctors recommended surgery. His father sadly died shortly after however and Desire has since been unable to raise the money needed for surgery. As his vision deteriorated, a relative referred him to a CBM partner for consultation. It was agreed that Desire would have the surgery and that CBM would pay for surgery and all treatments.
CBM will be following Desire's story each day with an update on social media pages and and through email updates. The updates will be cataloguing the ups and downs of Desire's journey in real time. It will be a nerve-racking and emotional journey for him, his family and all the CBM staff with him. On September 19 it will be possible to watch Desire seeing his family clearly for the first time.