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TOMS x charity: water - An Eyewer collaboration
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Giving TOMS Shoes in the DRC
Founded by Ben Affleck in 2010, ECI is an advocacy and grant-making organization that works with and for the people of DRC, the third most populous country in Africa, and one that struggled under a cycle of violence for nearly 20 years – particularly in the east. Read More >>
Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala
Giving Partner: Visualiza Eye Care Center
Service Provided: Cataract surgery
By the time now-15-year-old José from Guatemala was 6 years old, his congenital cataracts (those that he had had since birth) had developed in such a way that left him blind, changing the course of his childhood.
Unable to attend school, José’s only friend was a neighborhood girl that he grew up with. Every day when she came home from school, José would visit her to hear what she learned about that day in class. One day, the girl told José that she had seen a clerk at their local store who had received eye surgery and was able to see again. She urged José and his mother to visit the eye clinic to see what could be done.
José’s friend’s family helped him and his mother save money and reach out to Visualiza Eye Care Center, a TOMS Sight Giving Partner in Guatemala City, nearby to where José lived. By bus, José and his mom reached Visualiza, where he doctors performed a full eye examination, and determined he would need cataract surgery.
Though it sounds like an intense plan of action, the staff at Visualiza explained to José and his mother that cataract could be repaired with a 15-minute surgery wherein they would replace the clouded lens with an artificial lens. They learned that this would be all that José needed to see again, and that the surgery costs would be covered through the support of the TOMS Sight Giving model. Andrea, a staff member at Visualiza explained the impact that a simple 15-minute procedure can have: “We didn’t only change his life, we also changed his mother’s life and his friend’s life.”
After the bandages from surgery were removed, both José and his mother started crying. José shouted, “Mom, I can see! I can see!”
Since regaining his sight, José is determined to go back to school. When he grows up, he wants to be a doctor. Andrea, in telling this story, welled up with tears, “A 15-year-old boy [with big ambitions] is excited to start kindergarten.”
José narrated his own story with excitement, “It doesn’t matter if I’m 15 years old, I have been given an opportunity that I have to take. I promise to bring Visualiza my first grades from school!”