The November 20, 2010, started like any other day for ten year old Kefas Sangangala, it was however the day a tragic set of circumstances would leave him badly injured and completely blind.
Kefas woke that fateful morning and happily ran into the garden to catch a chicken for his father, Ellias Sangangala, to prepare for the family meal. Ellias was busy in the kitchen and heard a loud bang shattering the usual peace of the morning, followed by the cries of his son. Unknown to the family, a landmine - a relic from Angola's bloody civil war – had lain hidden in the ground that was now their yard, and Kefas had just triggered it.
The blast left Kefas with brutal injuries to his left arm, and to his face, where shrapnel severely damaged his eyes, leaving him completely blind. His father rushed him to a nearby mission hospital, where his arm had to be amputated and his wounds treated. However, doctors at the mission hospital were unable to save his eyes. Weeks later at a follow up visit to the mission hospital they met a doctor known only as Doctor Andrew who told he had heard about a good paediatric ophthalmologist practicing out of Kitwe Central Hospital in Zambia. As there are no specialist children's eye services in Angola it was agreed that this was Kefas' only hope to see again. Dr Andrew decided on the spot to drive Kefas and his father to Kitwe, a journey that took two days.
ORBIS, international sight saving not-for-profit organisation, has been working in partnership with Kitwe Central Hospital and their Eye Department to develop specialised children's services since 2010. ORBIS is supporting the development of a dedicated child friendly centre complete with all the necessary equipment and state of the art specialist training for the children's eye care team. For many years Dr. Mboni has treated all the child patients at the hospital as he has a particular interest in children's eye care. In 2010 ORBIS funded his paediatric fellowship at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College in Moshi, Tanzania so he could formalise his sub-speciality training and hone his skills.
When Kefas arrived at Kitwe Central Hospital, he was in a bad way. Unable to see anything, he cried himself to sleep at night and Ellias feared for his education and future. When Dr. Mboni examined Kefas, he realised that, although it would be impossible to save his right eye, there was a chance that if he could remove the traumatic cataract that had formed in his left eye some degree of vision could be restored.
The operation was successful and now Kefas can see again! He will have to use low vision aids to help him at school and with reading, he is able to walk around freely and confidently without any aids. He can see colours, like the green of his father's shirt and to his total delight and pride he was even able pointed out the detailed stripes on his own shirt. At the time ORBIS met Kefas, they were expecting to leave for home shortly, once he had seen the Low Vision Specialist at Kitwe Central Hospital who would supply them with the special tools Kefas will need for reading to maximise the potential of his remaining vision.
Kefas is looking forward to going back to school, where he is in grade three, and playing with his school friends again. While Ellias is just relieved and happy that his little boy now has the chance at a normal and independent life.