As we settled into our Easter Holidays we received a message from one of our colleagues. Gloria had met a little girl who needed us, and her parents wanted to meet with us as soon as possible. We agreed to meet that same day and we were immediately captivated by Ntokozo’s shy smile. Mom and Dad realised that she needs extra care, but they have no idea where this will come from.
Ntokozo has albinism and little ones like her often have trouble with their eyesight. They need to wear glasses or contact lenses to help correct problems like near-sightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. Something that most parents don’t realise or are not told until their little one is much older. Others might need eye surgery. Just as there are different degrees of albinism there are also different levels of eye problems for a person who has the condition. Our public healthcare system is taking strain and it is a place for a new parent to be. Ntokozo is only one and half. Her journey has barely started.
The reason they have come to Bright Eyes Centre is because they believe that we can help her. We are an early intervention, care and stimulation centre for visually impaired children. We specialise in assisting parents like Mabongi and Ntuthuko in settling into life with a visually impaired child as well as supporting them in their journey towards providing Ntokozo with all she needs to take on life with a visual impairment. We can prepare her for school, guide them towards the correct medical care and be a pillar of strength when the doctor’s visits become daunting.
Sadly, both parents are recently retrenched. We cannot fathom how they are getting by on a R400 social grant with a baby. The fact that they made the effort to come see us tells us they are serious about doing what is best for their child. Transport to meet us would have cost them almost R40 today, money they could have spent on food. We were more than halfway through our meeting before they summed up the courage to ask us what we charge. Both parents looked shocked when we explained that R400 was all they needed. We pride ourselves in offering the best level of care at a price that most people in their position can afford. Neither parents hesitated and asked for application forms. We handed them the forms and our hearts broke. They explained to us that they don’t know yet how they will afford if, but they will get back to us.
It is at this stage that we need to ask our readers, can you help? The sooner Ntokozo begins early intervention and stimulation the better for her. Not only will this give her a fighting chance, but it will allow mom to get out there and go look for work. Usually little ones would be left with the neighbourhood Gogo while mom is out looking for work but dangerous myths and stereotypes around children with albinism leaves Ntokozo at risk in her community. We are by no means letting her parents off the hook, any amount they pay will be put towards her future fee.