15-year-old smiling Jaonah

15-year-old Jaonah

Jaonah is a bright light, with his big smile and boundless energy. Eager to head off to school in the morning, and happy to get back home to play soccer with his friends. But, starting in early childhood, the blackboard, the soccer ball, and his family’s faces got harder and harder to see.

His parents hoped beyond hope that there was something they could do for their son. 

They worked long, hard days farming the lush rice and vanilla fields of Sambava, Madagascar, earning just enough to feed their five children and maintain their two-room home. They didn't know Jaonah's vision loss could be fixed nor could they afford treatment. 

By eight years old, Jaonah had completely lost his sight. His mother had to stop working and stay at home to take care of him, putting even more financial strain on the family.

Imagine what it must feel like, watching your child’s vision disappear — and along with it, all the opportunities that come with healthy vision.

“My biggest worry? That he would die,” his father shared in a soft voice. “When I was walking, I couldn’t see. It was really scary,” recalled Jaonah.

My biggest worry? That he would die,” his father shared in a soft voice. “When I was walking, I couldn’t see. It was really scary,” recalled Jaonah.

Imagine how young Jaonah felt — stuck inside those four walls in total darkness. Hearing the door close and his siblings’ voices fade away as they left for school without him. Listening to his friends’ laughter and the thud of the soccer ball being kicked in the field outside. 

But when things were at their darkest, a glimmer of hope appeared. One day at church, his parents heard about a Seva Canada-sponsored screening camp being held nearby. That moment — made possible by caring donors just like you — would change everything. 

Every child is full of endless potential. But too many face a lifetime of challenges and dependence because they are blind. 4 out of 10 children who are blind could see if they had early access to treatment

11-year-old Jaonah after surgery

11-year-old Jaonah at his post-op exam the day after his sight-restoring surgery.

At the screening camp, Jaonah was diagnosed with developmental cataracts. He and his mother were transported to the nearest eye hospital run by Seva Canada’s partners, where he received sight-restoring surgery, thanks to the generousity of our donors.  

“I can’t believe the beautiful stars in the night sky!”
- Jaonah after sight-restoring cataract surgery

When his bandages were removed, Jaonah’s face lit up with excitement as he saw his mother clearly for the first time since he was a toddler. At his checkup the next day, he thanked the doctor and said, “I can’t believe the beautiful stars in the night sky!”

11-year-old Jaonah after surgery getting an eye exam

Jaonah having his vision tested the day after cataract surgery

The first thing he did when he returned home? Headed straight to the soccer field, where he was met with a hug from the friends he’d missed playing with for so long.

And Jaonah didn’t just get back his chance to play. He was able to go back to school, laying the foundations for a full and independent life.

15-yr-old Jaonah and his family in Sambava Madagascar

Jaonah with his family

We have hope for his future,” his mother shared with
joyful relief.

I’m thrilled to share with you that Jaonah is now an active 15-year-old, full of ambition and drive. He’s top of his class! 

“I want to be mayor of our town and help our community,” - Jaonah, now 15 years old.

15-yr-old Jaonah leaning against the doorway of his home in Sambava Madagascar

15-year-old Jaonah at home

“I want to be mayor of our town and help our community,” he shares, his eyes sparkling with confidence and determination. 

Seeing Their Potential - Jaonah's story video image

Watch Jaonah's story here!


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