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The Gift of Sight – Aminat Azeez’s Story

The Gift of Sight – Aminat Azeez’s Story

The Gift of Sight – Aminat Azeez’s Story

Aminat bumps into objects even when navigating close ranges/ short distances. Her siblings were the first to notice and soon her school confirmed the same – Aminat couldn’t see clearly. And gradually she completely lost her sight.

According to the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Prevalence Report (2018), in an average group of 10 people with intellectual disabilities (PWIDs), four (4) have untreated tooth decay, one (1) needs an urgent referral to a dentist, four (4) need eyeglasses and two (2) have some kind of eye disease. World Health Organization Fact Sheet states that PWIDs are four times more likely to report being treated badly by health care professionals and nearly 3 times more likely to be denied care. Therefore there is a wide between the health status of people with and without intellectual disabilities

Aminat is a  27 year-old young lady with downsyndrome attending Omoyeni Basic Special School in Ibadan. Her mother – Mrs. Funmilayo Azeez relates her daughter’s journey from when she noticed her visual problems.

Growing Pains

Aminat bumps into objects even when navigating close ranges/ short distances. Her siblings were the first to notice and soon her school confirmed the same – Aminat couldn’t see clearly. And gradually she completely lost her sight. She cried a lot and was always in a bad mood, and this saddened me. Aminat’s father was retrenched from work and the burden of ensuring the home feeds was on my shoulders, the costs were to heavy for me. There was no money to take aminat for proper medical tests.

A Flicker of Hope

In September 2017, I received a letter from her school. It was an invitation to be part of a free health screening offered by Special Olympics Nigeria on 14th Oct 2017.

I attended the screening with my daughter for various health disciplines. At the dental screening section (Special Smiles), we were taught good oral hygiene practices and referred for follow-up treatment. At the visual screening section (Opening Eyes), we were told that Aminat had cataracts in both eyes and this was what led to her losing her sight. To my joy, we were referred for follow-up treatment. I was so happy to hear the good news! In March 2018, I took my daughter to her dental treatment appointment courtesy of SO Nigeria through the partnership with Gracy Crystals Dental Services Oluyoro, Ibadan. I felt so lucky to be among the beneficiaries of this program.After the treatment, she became more eager to smile and the sight of her bright smiles made me so glad.

Although happy about the dental procedure performed on Aminat, I began to worry about the eye treatment as many months had passed and I’d heard no word about the follow-up treatment which was supposed to be a surgery. I began to lose hope.

Will my daughter see me?

I was assured by a represenatative of Special Olympics Nigeria, that the surgery will still hold, this was followed by a call informing me that I needed to take my daughter for pre-operative tests at Eye foundation Hospital Ijebu-Mushin. On the 31st July 2019, Aminat underwent cataract surgery at Eye Foundation in Lagos and it was successful!

Post-operative tests revealed improvements in my daughter’s sight as she could recognize objects like the doctor’s phone, fingers, the colour white and she could admire her clothes. SO Nigeria has made me the happiest mother alive because my daughter can see again.

Double serving – Sight and Smiles!

I cannot thank SO Nigeria enough for restoring bright smiles to my daughter’s face and the gift of sight through their sponsorship. My daughter who once required aid to move around no longer needs assistance. She now contributes gladly to house chores and enjoys playing with others unlike the days when she felt trapped indoors. Words cannot express the way I feel.  God bless SO Nigeria”.

Aminat Azeez is still undergoing a monthly post-operative check-up at the Eye Foundation Hospital Ijebu-Mushin, Ogun State, Nigeria.

At SO Nigeria we are grateful to the health facilities – Gracy Crystals Dental Services Oluyoro, Ibadan and Eye Foundation Hospital, through whose partnership, Aminat’s sight and bright smile has been restored. We would like for more partners to join the inclusion movement and bridge the health gap that exists for people with ID in Nigeria. Reach out to SO Nigeria at info@sonigeria.org and become an inclusion ambassador.

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