Special report by Brian Doolan, CEO
Rwanda: Find out how The Foundation restored sight to this little boy and renewed his family’s hope for a better future.


Samuel does not need to be blind

Samuel loves the sound of his mother singing to him. Samuel tries to sing along, even though he is only two years old.

This little boy was born blind and his mother's voice in the darkness let him know she was there.

Samuel lives in Rwanda, a developing country in Africa.Samuel's mother soon realised there was something wrong with her son's eyes. Photo: Kabir Dhanji

His father Claude, 22, and his mother Mukandayisenga, 20, both lost their entire families in the violence that tore Rwanda apart in 1994 and in the years of disease and hardship that followed in the refugee camps in the Congo.

They returned to Rwanda in 1998, met as neighbours and married soon after. When Samuel was born they were overjoyed.

But Samuel's mother soon realised there was something wrong with her son's eyes.

Mukandayisenga heard about a Foundation-supported eye clinic some distance from their village. With Samuel on her back, she trekked for hours through the valleys and up the ridges.

When they finally got there Samuel was diagnosed with cataracts.

"This new blow for our young family was devastating," his mother told us.

Their lives had already been filled with great hardship and loss.

"We became very sad because we thought this meant he would be blind for life," Samuel's mother said. "And if this was the case he would need to be looked after and would get no education or work."

In Rwanda, the richest people live at the top of the ridges. The poorer you are, the further down the valley you live, and Samuel's family live at the bottom.

Their mud house has three rooms, but the largest room is used to store hay for their precious single cow. There is no electricity.

Providing treatment to disadvantaged children

The Foundations helps cover the cost of surgery for those who can't afford it. Photo: Kabir Dhanji

Luckily, Samuel was able to have his surgery through a special Fred Hollows Foundation program that provides treatment to disadvantaged children.

Surgery day arrived for Samuel and the simple operation was performed.

His mother was calm. But we noticed that she sang quietly to her son, holding his small hand while he rested after his operation. I think she was more anxious than she admitted.

A tiny miracle

Just 24-hours later Samuel had his eye patch removed.

Reach out to others like Samuel to restore sight and hope. Photo: Kabir DhanjiThe little boy’s eyes became wide with amazement, and a smile slowly spread across his face. Everyone in the room couldn’t help smiling too.

His mother was overjoyed, she hugged him tightly and they both laughed out loud at the tiny miracle. For the first time in his short life, Samuel could see!

Samuel’s mother said, “I did not know that people from a long way were helping my family. We feel like we have been blessed that help has come.”

Please help give hope and opportunity to others like Samuel and their families.

What we can do

Help keep Fred’s dream alive.

4 out of 5 people who are blind in the developing world don't need to be. Routine treatment costing as little as $25 can restore sight and hope.