‘‘The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision," said Helen Adams Keller, an American author, political activist, lecturer and the first deaf-blind person to earn a BA degree.

Such profound words coming from someone who couldn’t hear or see sent shivers down my spine. She stopped at nothing to achieve her dreams.

I realised that I was worried by small matters, and it made me appreciate the little that was left of my vision.

When I visited an optometrist more than two years ago, I conceded that I had vision problems. I was not ready to wear spectacles or contact lenses. Equally, I was not ready to damage my sight any further.

The diagnosis came out, and I was told that I was short-sighted.

Since that day I've been using spectacles, and they've become a part of me.

I hadn't had any close interaction with anyone who has eyesight issues until I was in Mamelodi two weeks ago.

I met a 19-year-old who was partially blind. He was diagnosed with retinal detachment on his right eye in May 2016.

The condition subsequently occurred in his left eye around September 2016.

Apparently the operation and treatment are expensive.

I asked myself: Why do poor people have to go through so much discomfort when they already have so much to deal with?

The youth waited in long queues with people who had the same condition, if not worse, for weeks.

Mind you, one has to book for the hospital to perform the operation.

If he had the funds to perform this operation in a private hospital, it could have saved his eye.

He lost a full year of studying, which subsequently led to his failing to complete Grade 12.

He is such a ball of great energy and optimism. When he was telling me this story I could’t detect any negativity from him. His worry is that he might lose vision in both eyes. He believes the right eye can still be salvaged if it gets more specialised attention.

This teenager dreams of becoming a pilot and a model.

The atmosphere of the park we were at changed as he spoke about his dream to become a pilot. He strongly believes that it isn't too late to save his eyesight.

He reminded me of the miraculous biblical story recorded in the Gospel of Mark where a certain man named Bartimaeus was healed by Jesus. It was through his faith that he was healed, and this lad still has faith that he will see again.

Sadly, money is standing between him and his vision.

His family thought it would be wise to get him to an eye specialist, so they took him to see an ophthalmologist. The specialist said he would need more surgery around April. Money is still a problem.

I know that lawyers take pro bono cases for clients who earn little. Do we have some good Samaritan ophthalmologist out there who is willing to help this young man on a pro bono basis?

Our government spends millions of rand in prisons for people who have done wrong, but we have little or no money to help those who did not bring upon themselves the challenges they face.

Rapists, murderers and God knows who else continue to gain from taxpayers' money when those who haven't broken the law or done anyone any wrong continue to suffer.

The injustices of our constitution and the unfairness of our law are really something that is beyond my comprehension.

I just hope there are people out there who have bigger hearts and can empa- thise with this lad and open their surgeries to help him save his one eye.

In that manner, I believe that will ensure that his vision of becoming a pilot will be preserved together with his eyesight.

* Kabelo Chabalala is the founder of the Young Men Movement (YMM). Email: [email protected]; Twitter: @KabeloJay; Facebook: Kabelo Chabalala

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

The Star