Restored eyesight after domestic assault
The life-aspiration of Gabriel Matthew, a 13-year old student now residing with his parents at Kabayi, Nasarawa state, is not different from that of every other child in Nigeria which is to grow up healthy and strong, attain an education and aspire into a prosperous and fruitful life that will enable them take care of their parents.
This aspiration would have, however, nipped in the bud when disaster struck following a child abuse-related affliction that threatened his eyesight, thanks to the timely intervention of Innovative Solutions for Community Development (ISD), a community-based organization in his community that focuses on orphans and vulnerable children and implemented through Caritas Nigeria’s PEPFAR funding.
Narrating his ordeal to the ISD’s OVC team, he said that three years ago when he was living with his uncle in Kaduna, the aunty (his uncle’s wife), physically assaulted him inflicting severe injuries on him that almost blinded him. According to him, “my aunty sent me on an errand one day and because I did return on time, in anger she took an electric cable and started whipping me. I cried and cried to no avail as no one came to my rescue. In the process of whipping me, the cable landed on my eye and within minutes blood came out of right eye”. The aunty only stopped when she noticed blood on his cheek which she quickly cleaned and then rushed her to a nearby patent medicine store where little or nothing was done. Subsequently, “she threatened to do worse if I told anyone about the incident”.
Shortly after the incidence, he began to feel severe pain on the right eye and gradually vision deteriorated to the point that he could not see again. The only treatment he got was pain killers. At this point, the parents ordered his return back home where they were confronted with huge financial constraints in the course of seeking the right medical care to save their son’s eyesight.
It was at this point that PEPFAR-funded intervention through ISD and Caritas Nigeria came into the picture. Gabriel’s household was enrolled into OVC program and he was taken to the neighbouring district hospital in Asokoro where he had several appointments with the team of eye doctors. After several visits and tests, a diagnosis of the right eye cataract due to trauma was established by the doctors. He was eventually booked for and had a cataract surgery on the 22nd of September 2016 at the same hospital. Not only was the surgery very successful, there were no complications whatsoever and he recovered very quickly.
With the remarkable improvement recorded, he has been able to resume back to school to continue with his educational training. He is also back to fully living with his parents and siblings.
For the family, the trauma of the whole incidence has been swallowed by the newly restored hope of their son’s eyesight and wellbeing. According to the mother, “there are no words to express my appreciation for what you people have done to my family”. The intervention in the family of Gabriel is one of several such interventions in hundreds of homes within the community. Within the last one year, a total of 911 families scattered across three Local government areas in Nasarawa and Abuja have been supported in one way or the other.