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  • Writer's pictureRobin Hammond

Restoring Sight: EDWARD KONI

New Zealand born photographer Robin Hammond travelled to Luapula Province in Zambia to meet Edward Koni. There he shared an experience that would change Edward’s life forever.

Zambia is one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 150 out of 169 on the 2010 UN Human Development Index. In Luapula Province, often referred to as ‘the Valley of the Blind,’ poverty issues have allowed blindness to become a pervasive problem.

Eye disease is truly a disease of poverty — as it is the result of vitamin deficiency, malnutrition, poor access to clean water, inadequate sanitation and lack of access to proper health services.

This is the story of Edward Koni, a 78-year-old man from Luapula Province in Zambia, who is grandfather to Bernard. On Tuesday, Edward Koni was completely blind. He had been blind for the past year.

His grandson Bernard had become accustomed to looking after him. Cleaning the house, taking him to the bathroom, and fetching his grocery shopping. Edward felt what a joy it would be to see Bernard’s beautiful young face and truly thank him for all that he did.

Word had been spreading in villages and towns nearby of doctors who could restore people’s sight at a hospital called St Paul’s Mission Hospital in Nchelenge. Edward travelled there with Bernard, and was immediately given cataract surgery on both eyes that day.

Photography has allowed me to see some tragic things and some remarkable things, but rarely have I been so moved as when I saw the joy on Edward’s face after his sight was miraculously restored.

When the bandages were taken off his eyes on Thursday he was able to see again. He could see his grandson Bernard again.

Edward broke his walking stick over his knee and walked out of the hospital triumphantly. The return of his sight was celebrated with family members and neighbours who cheered at his recovery.

Edward joyfully shouted, “I am not a blind man, I am not a blind man”.

Legatum’s END Fund has provided more than 10,000 surgeries to people suffering from blinding trachoma and lymphatic filariasis.

The energy, talent, impact, and joy of the diverse community brought together by the END Fund has been, and will continue to be, a key driver of our unique contribution to the global movement to end NTDs.

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