Winesi is feeling on top of the world. He and his wife Namaleta have planted an extra crop of maize, and he’s managed to save enough money to fix the roof of their house and buy timber for a wooden door. Life is good, and it’s a far cry from when we first met him more than three years ago.
Back then, cataracts had robbed Winesi of his sight. This once proud and independent man was scared to move very far in case he fell and hurt himself or got bitten by a snake. He couldn’t farm his land and had to sit helplessly while Namaleta and his children did all the work. He worried that Namaleta would get fed up and leave him, and often couldn’t hold back his tears.
“I remember losing my sight as if it were yesterday,” Winesi recalls. “It was so painful, I will never forget. I understood for the first time why people commit suicide. At one point I even stood above a big rubbish pit, ready to throw myself in.”
Thanks to you, Winesi got the help he desperately needed. The turning point came when eye care worker Madalitso Nyangulu carried out eye screening in the village, supported by you. Madalitso examined Winesi’s eyes and told him he could have free treatment through Sightsavers.
Little did he know, but Winesi was about to play an important role in our biggest-ever fundraising campaign: A Million Miracles. We asked him if we could film his operation and stream it live. We wanted to show the world that a straightforward, 10-minute operation costing just £30/€36 could be a sight-saving miracle for a person with cataracts.
Winesi said yes, and tens of thousands of you watched his miracle happen. You responded magnificently, and went on to help fund more than a million more life-changing cataract operations, freeing hundreds of thousands of men, women and children from blindness.
Since his operation was broadcast, not only is Winesi enjoying a new lease of life, he’s become a bit of a local celebrity – and he’s putting his fame to good use.
“People regularly come to my house to see whether I really can see again,” he explains. “I tell them my story, hoping this will encourage them to have their own operation.”
Dr Msukwa is an ophthalmologist in southern Malawi. He restores sight through cataract operations, and says his passion is helping children to see again.