Tzu Chi Foundation’s two-day eye mission in Ormoc City helped a father, who had been blind for 32 years, to see his loved ones for the first time.
Nelson Poliquit spent the past 32 years of his life in total darkness. His eyesight deteriorated when he was 12 and by the time he was 15, he was completely blind. He believed that he lost his eyesight due to too much exposure to the sun since he started working in the fields as a farmer at a very young age.
When he was 18 years old, he met a woman who was kind and cares for him. Although he was blind, but he was certain of their love for each other. They decided to live together and they were blessed with two children.
His partner, 68-year-old Erlinda Andreano, was his eyes in their partnership. During his darkest times when he felt like he was a burden to the family, Erlinda did not abandon nor gave up on him. Instead, she patiently encouraged him to carry on.
Despite his condition, 48-years-old Nelson would accompany his wife and son to work in a sugar plantation. They would also plant vegetables and scavenge in the streets for scraps to sell as their livelihood.
“My father did everything he could to provide for the family. Even though he had lost his vision, he took care of us,” said Nelson’s youngest child, Jayson, 22.
However, the brunt of Nelson’s condition was felt by the entire family. Jayson and his older sister had to quit school and work in order to help with the expenses. Jayson helps his parents in working in the plantation, while his sister is in Manila to find a job.
On July 14, a ray of hope shone on the family. Volunteer ophthalmologists from Tzu Chi Foundation’s International Medical Association (TIMA) conducted free consultations for less-privileged patients in Ormoc City, Leyte. Nelson’s wife and son brought him to have his eyes checked. From the free checkup, they found out the both of his eyes have cataract.
In August, the volunteer ophthalmologists returned to operate on cataract and pterygium patients – all for free. Nelson was among the 179 patients who benefitted from the two-day eye mission.
Waiting for his turn in the surgery room on August 3, Nelson was more excited than nervous. For more than three decades, he had waited for this moment when he could finally see.
The first operation, which removed the cataract on his left eye, lasted less than 20 minutes. The following day, Nelson came back for the surgery on his other eye. After all the procedures were done, TIMA ophthalmologists checked on his vision and the result made everyone happy. Nelson can now see things clearly from a distance of 20 feet. When he finally laid eyes on his wife, the first thing he said was that she is beautiful. He was also thrilled to see his son for the first time.
“I have never seen him since he was born. I am happy because he grew up to be a good person.” Nelson shared.
Now that his vision is back, Nelson plans to make it up to his family. “I will find a job so that my wife will not have to work. It is now my turn to help her because I can finally see again,” Nelson shared.
“For the rest of my life, I will never forget this day. Tzu Chi had helped me. They gave me a second life,” he ended.