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Two Of My Three Children Are Blind!

By Camelia Nathaniel

As a mother having to bear the anguish of having a child being born blind is a nightmare in itself, but for K. Siriyalatha for some unknown reason two of her three children were born visually impaired.

M. Nandasena and Siriyalatha had settled down in Yakawewa, Halmillawetiya, Kebithigollewa after marriage and commenced what seemed at the time a normal family life like everyone else. Their first born was a healthy son, who was quite a bright child and was the pride and joy of his father who was employed in the Civil Defence Force, and stationed in the same area.

When Siriyalatha got pregnant for their second child 17 years ago, she had no idea that the birth of their little daughter Nandika Kumari, would bring them so much grief and agony. Having come to accept their little daughter’s condition and the doctors having assured them that their precious angel’s blindness was not due to any congenital condition, Nandasena and Siriyalatha decided to have another child. However when their third child Ravishka Eranjith too was found to be totally blind at birth, it completely shattered their lives.

Although they had consulted many doctors in search of answers to why two of their children were born visually impaired, the doctors too it seemed had absolutely no explanation to afford this family.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader Siriyalatha said that according to the doctors they could not find any reason as to why these two children were born this way. “When we consulted the doctors over our children’s plight they keep insisting that my husband and I are related and that could be the cause for the deformity of our children. However that is not so, and we have absolutely no blood connection whatsoever. If that was the case then even our oldest son should also have been affected. But he is perfectly fine and this fate has only befallen my two younger children,” she said.

Siriyalatha and her husband simply cannot understand why this had to happen to their younger children, while their older son is perfectly normal. “If as the doctors say it might be due to some relationship between my husband and I, then how come our older son has no such birth defect? Our oldest son has sat for his Advanced Level examination and got through with one A and two B’s. However he did not score enough marks to enter university but he says he wants to attempt the examination again this year in order to try and score enough grades to enter university.”

Their second daughter although blind, has no other impairment, and can manage on her own. “My second child is a daughter who is 17 years of age and she and my little son were both born blind, for no specific diagnosed cause. My daughter is currently studying at the School for the Visually Impaired at Ratmalana. My youngest son who is eight years of age was also born blind, and in addition to his visually impairment he is also unable to walk,” she explained.

The doctors had told them that there is no cure or treatment available for their two children in this country, and that the only available treatment that might offer some solace to them was in India. “The doctor said that treatment could be sought in India, where surgery is possible in order to enable my children to see. However that is something that is way beyond our affordability and we are unable to bear such a cost, as we barely manage to feed our children. According to the doctors in Sri Lanka that my children’s eyesight could be restored through surgery, but it is unfortunate that this surgery is not available in this country. The closest country that offers this kind of surgery to restore eyesight is India, yet it will cost us so much that it is totally beyond our affordability. The doctors are hopeful that in the future this surgery will be available in our country as well, but by the time it is available here it might be too late for my children,” she lamented.

“We live and manage our children’s needs with the greatest difficulty with the salary of just my husband, which is less than Rs. 20,000, but I am unable to assist the family financially as I have to be committed full time to my son. As he cannot see and also has difficulty walking, he needs full time assistance and care. He does not attend school either as, specialised facilities are not available for children like him in our village school,” she added.

Siriyalatha says that the doctors have found no problem with her sons legs that prevents him from walking. “I think since he cannot see he is afraid to place his feet on the ground and walk. He therefore he prefers to be carried and assisted all the time, and that has made him very dependent on us. I think we are to blame too as both my husband and I have been carrying him all the time, for fear that he might hurt himself. The doctors have also told us that his muscles have not developed due to not being used. When we are around him he tries to hold onto us and stand up, but when he is alone he is too afraid to stand on his own,” she said.

For Siriyalatha and her husband it is heart breaking to be so far apart from their daughter, but knowing that the only help available for their little daughter is at the school for the visually impaired in Ratmalana gives them some solace. “Since our daughter is old enough to take care of herself and has no physical disability we have no fear in leaving her on her own at the School for the visually impaired in Ratmalana. However it is a very long distance away from our village and visiting her is a very costly and tiring journey.

If I have the ability to stay in Colombo close to the blind school, then I could send my son to school as well and help him in his education, she said.

With just only her husband’s salary it is very difficult for them to manage the distance, having to attend to their two children at home and their daughter so far apart. However in spite of being faced with this incredible challenge, this mother is determined to educate her children to the best of her ability. “My only intention is to educate my three children even if it means we have to make lots of sacrifices in order to achieve this goal,” she said with determination.

In spite of the visual impairments that has affected little Ravishka, he has been blessed with a cheerful personality. He is constantly chattering away and singing merrily as if in his own little way making an effort to bring a smile and happiness to the faces and hearts of his grief stricken parents.

2 Comments for “Two Of My Three Children Are Blind!”

  1. gamarala

    What is the diagnosis of the cause of the visual impairment?
    This vital fact is not stated.

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