Masari’s Priceless Gift of Sight to Cataract Patients

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Francis Sardauna chronicles the effort of Aminu Masari Youth Empowerment Foundation in restoring the sight of cataract patients in Katsina State through free surgery

According to statistics recently released by a United Arab Emirates (UAE)- based non-governmental organisation, Noor Dubai Foundation, Katsina State has no fewer than 30,000 cataract patients across the 34 local government areas of the state.

Miffed by the statistics, Masari Youth Empowerment Foundation, founded by the state Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, has so far carried out free eye surgeries, correctional testing services and provided glasses to over 3,000 cataract patients drawn from Katsina, Jigawa and Gwagwalada.

The inauguration of the foundation was part of Governor Masari’s humble contributions towards redirecting youths from dependency to a productive and formidable people with hope for a better future.

Thus, the endowment is providing the needed support to the youths in areas of education through scholarships, empowerment, medical outreach for the less privileged and positive mentorship opportunities for the youths to realise their full potentials.

The recent free eye surgery programme was carried out under the foundation’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), tagged Priceless Gift of Sight. Out of this number, the sight of almost 2,000 visually impaired people have been restored through surgeries, while the rest underwent tests to correct various eye defects and also received glasses.

The three-day priceless gift of sight programme, was designed by the charity and non-profitable organisation to tackle cataracts and other eye defects that could lead to blindness among underprivileged adults and children across various villages and communities in Katsina, Jigawa and Gwagwalada.

The exercise also included screening of patients by trained para-medical staff, full ophthalmic and medical examination of patients prior to surgery and the eventual surgery performed by the surgeons.

Other measures put in place by the Masari Foundation are admission of screened patients for two days before surgery, observation of the patients for at least 24 hours post surgery, check-up on patients within six weeks after the surgery in their respective communities, and random post operative audit by independent ophthalmologists to confirm the efficiency of the surgery and state of health of the beneficiaries.

Aminu Masari Youth Empowerment Foundation’s effort has also raised awareness on the magnitude of the problems associated with cataract in the state.

The non-governmental organisation’s unflinching support to stemming cataract disease among the needy has gone a long way to improve the socio-economic well-being of the over 3,000 beneficiaries and their respective families.

More significantly, the programme serves as an avenue for indigenous medical and para-medical personnel to build their capacity through the training offered by the team of doctors provided by the non-political foundation that conducts the free and sight-giving exercise for the underprivileged people, mostly women and children.

Indeed, there is no gift in the world better than giving sight to the visually impaired. This, perhaps may be the belief of the ‘people’s governor’ who vowed at different fora that he will retire from active politics in 2023 to focus more on assuaging the plight of the vulnerable through his charity organisation and farming activities.

The Chairman of the Aminu Masari Youth Empowerment Foundation, Kabir Muhammed, while declaring the exercise open, said the programme was designed to combat cataracts and other eye defects that could lead to blindness among underprivileged adults and children across various communities in the state.

He noted that the need to address avoidable visual impairment in the state and Nigeria as a whole was huge, adding that the foundation looks forward to scaling up the programme and bringing the benefits to many more who are in need.

According to him, “All the cataract patients from Jigawa, Katsina and Gwagwalada that are here would have their sight restored through surgeries. Some of them will undergo tests to correct their various eye defects and also receive glasses.

“The importance of sight to the well-being of an individual and nation cannot be under estimated. We are proud to sustain the execution of this initiative because it has continued to positively touch and transform the lives of thousands of people, homes and the entire society”.

He affirmed that the outreach was to support and put smiles on the faces of others by helping them not only with screening, but also with treatment and medications in furtherance of the foundation’s efforts to fill the vacuum in the health sector towards producing an environment filled with healthy people.

Earlier, the Medical Director of the Katsina Eye Centre, Dr. Ahmed Hamza, lamented that the state has a very high magnitude of eye cases ranging from common cataract to blindness.

According to him, “Cataract is an eye disease that affects the ability of an individual to see clearly which could lead to total blindness, if not treated”.

In his testimony, a beneficiary of the programme, Usman Danbaba from Kurfi, said, for 15 years I battled with poor sight and at a point, it became so serious that I could barely see and my source of livelihood was affected.

“I lost hope of seeing again and this affected my farming and ability to cater for my family until I heard about this free eye surgery programme. I went through the necessary tests and the surgery which was very successful. Allah will bless Governor Aminu Masari for serving my life”.

While narrating her ordeal, another beneficiary, Ramatu Aliyu, 56, said: Ibrahim (her uncle) I can see you and other people clearly now.That was her first utterance after doctors removed the bandages from her eyes”.

Another beneficiary, Garba Ruma, said he was diagnosed in 2018, but it was difficult for him to raise the money for the surgery.

The 50-year-old Ruma, who was visibly overwhelmed, added: “I have been suffering from blindness for about four years and some months now, but with this surgery by Aminu Masari Foundation, I have regained my sight.

“If not for the assistance of the foundation, my wife and I could not raise the money for the cataract surgery that I was diagnosed with in October 2018. The foundation carried out the surgery on me free of charge. Endless blessings, is what I wish for Alhaji Masari”.

In view of its doggedness in curbing the hardship of the vulnerable people, the foundation had in 2021, donated 200 wheelchairs to physically challenged persons across the 34 local government areas of the state as part of efforts to assuage their plights.

Therefore, it is pertinent to note that the Aminu Masari Foundation is providing the needed support to the youths, women and children in the areas of education through scholarships, empowerment, medical outreach for the less privileged and positive mentorship opportunities for the youths to realise their full potentials.

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“The importance of sight to the well-being of an individual and nation cannot be underestimated. We are proud to sustain the execution of this initiative because it has continued to positively touch and transform the lives of thousands of people, homes and the entire society”