Dare you not to smile Dare you not to smile

Dare you not to smile

Francine Nyiradende, 76, from the Eastern Province of Rwanda had been a widow for 30 years and had been totally blind for more than three years. She had no proper kitchen or toilet in her home, and after some time she was abandoned by her grandson who found it too hard to look after her,

To get by, Francine needed daily help from kindly neighbours like Specise.

Depressed and reliant, she suffered multiple fractures due to frequent falls, and would often go hungry because she feared burning herself if she tried to cook.

It’s hard to believe that the woman below is the same person.

When her patches came off, Francine’s exuberance was infectious. She couldn’t sit still, reaching out to hug the doctors and wandering round the hospital. She was so excited, she kept touching her eyes despite repeated instructions not to.

Here are some of the best moments – and her best quotes - after she got her sight back.

Take a look – we dare you not to smile. 

“oh my god, I can really see! I thank god, I thank all you doctors, and I thank the president of Rwanda!”


"What do I do now? I feel like flying!"

"This is really you, I told you that I'd hug you when I become able to see!"


"This is a miracle….oh my God, people really do good indeed….I didn't even give a penny nor did I feel hungry."


“Oh, I didn’t realise I was in such a beautiful hospital!” 

"What will I do now ?...I can't find words to explain all of this."

"I will be able to cook again - I am happy to work."


"Oh my goodness, they are waving their hands at me, I feel like flying towards them!"


"This is so overwhelming, I am overjoyed!"

“None of the other people will believe that she can actually see, because she’s just been blind for so long!”

"Oh, look at this beautiful place that I couldn't see!"

Francine's transformation is just one of the remarkable stories we’ve made happen in Rwanda. Find out more about our work in Rwanda, or simply watch Francine's transformation in action. 

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