Winesi March’s family is a big one. He and his wife Namaleta have 13 children in total, as well as many grandchildren. There’s Yulita, Frackson, Ethel, Flora, Luka, Lett, Samson, Yelesi, Alan… and that’s just for starters.
Winesi’s sight loss has affected all of them, and this is often an underestimated cost of avoidable blindness: the impact on the whole family.
“I feel sorry for my family,” says Winesi. “Because of my eye problem, I can no longer provide as I used to do in the past. I have some maize that I harvested last year remaining, but my worry is that once it’s finished, I won’t be able to support my family. I’m worried that they will suffer.”
He continues: “Everyone in this family is affected because of my blindness. Sometimes my children and my grandchildren fail to do what they want to do because they have to be around to help me. They can’t play with their friends or do other activities, because they have to be here to protect my life. There are times when my wife is away and my children can’t go to school because they have to look after me.”
The impact is biggest on Namaleta, who now has to do the work of two people to keep the household running and work to provide for the family. Winesi relies on her to lead him around, and although he’s known for a while that his cataracts could be treated at the hospital, he’s needed his wife to assist him to get there, and for various reasons – illness, bad timing, being unable to afford transport costs, the long walk on uneven roads – this hasn’t been possible.
“Everyone in this family will be happy.”
Now Winesi’s preparing for his surgery on 8 October, and while it’ll certainly change his life, it’ll also make life a great deal easier for the whole family, particularly Namaleta. Winesi can’t wait: “I will be very happy when I regain my sight. I will feel that I am the luckiest person on this earth,” he says. “I will also make celebrations with my family… Everyone in this family will be happy.”