Saturday, May 28, 2022

 THE VOICE OF THE VOICELESS

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With Biran Gaye

This column aspires to offer voice to the under-privileged, vulnerable and marginalised groups in the country, and share their plights to inspire unconditional consideration for a more comprehensive and inclusive laws, policies and interventions, all premised to enhance the livelihoods of persons with disability. It also intends to disclose the significant but less talked about roles of differently abled persons in the socio-economic progress of our society.

We will outreach to marginalised groups including the hard of hearing, visually impaired among others, to share their experiences with policy makers, concerned stakeholders and humanitarians to inspire and to collectively usher in a more balanced, progressive and inclusive society for all.

In this maiden edition, we will bring you touching plight and story of a differently abled person, who was visited by this reporter for an exclusive interview on his deteriorating vision, livelihood, and how he has been faring as an individual and as a family.

Mamat Njie, a visually impaired and motor spare parts trader at Latrikunda Sabiji, told Foroyaa in an interview that his eye sight has been diminishing each day for over a decade, prompting him to embark on a series of medical examination on the eye. Njie, 36, lamented fear of being jobless as he faces a deteriorating poor vision.

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The dejected spare part trader further disclosed that he is the breadwinner of his family, incurring rent, food meals and clothing expenses, coupled with other miscellaneous expenditures, adding: ” I am married with three (3) children, whom I take care of from the proceeds of my spare parts trading, which I’ve been doing for more than a decade now. I believe in hard work because it’s only through hard work that one can live a dignified life.”

Defiantly grounded, he said he refused to succumb to his sudden vision diminish initially, noting that he continues to work and runs other errands unaided. However, Njie added that he later got caught up with his vision loss, hitting him and his family hard as he is no longer able to see clearly. This, he lamented, causes him psychological and morale depression as a result of his bilateral poor vision.

”When I observed that I am increasingly experiencing poor vision each passing day, which prompted me to consult with eye specialists at different hospitals, to run a surgery on me. I resorted to both traditional and conventional medicines without significant improvement. Upon conducting the first surgery, it revealed that my eye sight is alarmingly diminishing, and that I have been suffering from bilateral poor vision since childhood,” he reiterated.

Njie also lamented that he incurs expensive medical bills, making him withdraw all of his savings to undergo prescribed surgeries on the eye. This, he added, currently mounts huge financial burden on his business, endangering its progress and proceeds.

According to his medical report, Njie had no family history of similar eye condition, making its surgery and treatment more sophisticated. The report also indicated that Njie experiences a progressive and painful vision loss, prescribing him to go for overseas medical surgery and treatment.

While narrating his ordeal further, he recalled that the local media reported his dire health state, calling on Government, NGos, and philanthropists to help to cover his medical bills. However, he noted that he has still not received any support to advance his treatment.

”I spent lots of money on my recent surgery to ascertain the exact eye defect I am suffering from. And after some time, I honoured the medics’ appointment, and got my medical report,” he said.

According to Njie’s medical report, his low vision is markedly obvious at night but relatively poor in lighted environment, adding: ” The anterior segments in both eyes were essentially normal except for bilateral lenticular opacities. Fundal examination showed bilateral pale disc with widespread hyperpigmented bony spicule lesions.”

The report said he developed retinitis pigmentosa, which requires some further assessment and rehabilitation, adding that he is referred for oversea treatment for visual field, low vision examination and possible visual rehabilitation.

”He may require cataract surgery with intraocular lens implantation with guarded prognosis,” it posited.

Acting on the advice of his Sheikh Zayed Regional Eye Care Centre’s medical report, Njie said he sought medical appointment from eye care hospitals overseas, getting it in Moorfields Private Eye Hospital in United Kingdom (UK), with the help of his eye care giver in the Gambia.

Since then, according to him, he has been raising funds to cover both the trip and the medical treatment. The dispirited young man added that he seeks financial aid from government departments, parastatals, companies as well as NGOs, philanthropists and concerned stakeholders, in a bid to honour his medical appointment at Moorfields Private Eye Care Hospital, UK, scheduled on the 4 July, 2022.

”I need approximately two hundred and fifty thousand dalasis (D250,000) to cover every expenditure of my trip and medical treatment, thus stretching my hands for help in order to curb its growing negative impact,” Njie told Foroyaa.

He implores donors to help him through his bank account no.: 201-133541-1590.

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