In Nampula, Mozambique, we’ve met many people whose lives have been turned upside down by blindness. All of their stories have moved us deeply, but some are so heartbreaking you can’t stop thinking about what lies ahead for the person who told it to you.


One such person is Laurinda. When we first caught sight of Laurinda she was kneeling on a straw mat with a small child on her lap looking defeated. She hardly moved while the child squirmed and played with its feet.

We talked to Laurinda about her circumstances; she told us she she was about 37, had been blind for around four years, and had seven children and one grandchild. She also told us she felt very alone and sad.


“When my husband realised that I was getting blind, he decided to split the relationship because I couldn’t do what I did. I couldn’t cook. I couldn’t farm. He then decided to divorce me, so I stay alone now.


“I don’t have a house. I don’t have clothes. I don’t have soap. I can’t fetch water. I can’t go to the farm to grow crops to feed my children. I don’t even have enough money to buy clothes for my children.”

Laurinda told us that she now lives with her eldest daughter, Aida. She’s only 14 or 15 and has a one-year-old daughter herself. It’s upon Aida’s young shoulders that a huge weight has fallen. Without help from anyone else, she’s responsible for providing Laurinda and her younger brothers and sisters with the food and water they need to get through each day.

“She is the one who does everything,” Laurinda says about Aida. “She prepares food, she washes my clothes, she cooks for me and fetches water for me. I can’t do anything when my daughter is not around. When my daughter goes to the farm, I don’t do anything; I just sit.”

Asked if she has any friends that could help her, a wry smile appeared briefly on Laurinda’s face before she replied, “I did once. But when they notice that someone is sick, and there is nothing they can get from them, they disappear. Back then they could get from me, but now they can’t.”

 

After sitting with Laurinda, we walked with her to a nearby well, Aida leading her tentatively by the hand, children strapped to both women’s backs. It was during this walk for such a basic necessity as water that it really hit home how fragile Laurinda’s life has become because of her blindness.

How do you think you’d feel if you hadn’t seen your children for four years? What do you think you would miss the most about seeing their faces every day? About watching them grow?
Laurinda is sat in front of us, with her baby Telma asleep on her lap. Her eldest daughter Aida sits to her left, cradling her own child Antonietta. They’re waiting in the ward at Ribaue Hospital, ready to be called to see Dr Anselmo. In a minute or so, he will remove the bandage covering Laurinda’s right eye, which she has worn since her cataract operation yesterday afternoon.

The anticipation is immense. The next moment will determine Laurinda and Aida’s entire future: a moment they’ve been awaiting for four years.


We’ve seen how hard life is for Laurinda and her family back in her village, Luli. Without her sight, she is unable to provide for the people she loves. She’s been living a life of worry and fear, that’s been filled with the ceaseless question, “What will become of me?”

But now her future is set to change forever. Laurinda is perched on a hospital bed and Dr Anselmo has started to peel away her bandage. She slowly opens her right eye and we all wait with great expectation, desperately hoping that the surgery has been successful…


At first, Laurinda tells us she can see some people but her vision is still a little cloudy. A nervous minute passes in which Dr Anselmo and Mario, Laurinda’s community leader, ask her if she can make out the colour of people’s clothes as they walk past the ward she’s sat in.

She’s correct with most of her answers. But our anxiety only begins to lift when she starts to closely observe Telma, the daughter she’s never seen before, and a broad smile spreads across her delighted face. She confirms her vision is improving. We feel relieved and ecstatic at the same time, and privileged to look upon this truly magical scene.


We’ve never seen Laurinda look so happy. We’ve never seen her interact with Telma like this before. She proudly gazes at her young daughter and asks, “Telma. What are you doing, Telma?” as the child nods her head up and down. Mario says, “She is happy,” and he’s right.

 

Content written by Sightsavers.

 

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