Clear vision, big ambition: David dreams of playing for Chelsea

May 2019

David was only 4 months old when his mother noticed his eyes weren't quite right, but because his family felt the condition would go away, he was 8 before he received surgery. You wouldn't know it now: at 12, David is happiest on the football pitch and keeping up with his favourite team – Chelsea.

David lives with his mum, dad and three brothers in a mining compound 45 kms from Kitwe, in the Copper belt province of Zambia. His father works on the mines while his mother, Moira, has her hands full caring for her young family.

When Moira first became concerned about David's vision as a young baby, she told the rest of the family. David's grandmother in particular was adamant that they should wait and see how the condition developed, but when he reached the age of two it was clear that his eyesight was deteriorating. At this point, David's grandmother took him to a traditional healer. Incisions were made next to his eyes and a variety of herbs placed into the wounds, but his condition remained the same.

Over the next few years, things got even worse. David would squint almost all the time; he was unable to play with friends and would often fall in ditches when running to catch his brothers. Playing his beloved football had become impossible.

David with his family, including his mother Moira and older brother Divine

David spends a lot of time with his older brother Divine, and Divine noticed that whenever he called out to David, his younger brother would walk straight past him without even noticing. He was constantly moving around, trying to find a spot from where to see clearly. School became a struggle too, with his writing deteriorating into illegible lines and scribbles.

Moira was at her wit's end, and when David was 8 she went against family pressure and took him to the local clinic. There, finally, he was diagnosed with cataracts and referred to the local Ronald Ross General Hospital, then on to Kitwe Eye Annexe – the only facility in Zambia equipped to provide the specialised treatment David needed.

David with his parents – his mother Moira battled to help her son with his vision

The ophthalmologist at Kitwe Eye Annexe told Moria that David needed surgery as soon as possible – a potentially frightening prospect for a young boy and his family, but Moira knew it was necessary. All she wanted was for her son to regain his sight.

And he did.

David on the football pitch

David underwent successful cataract surgery in November 2012, when he was 8 years old. Highly skilled ophthalmologist Dr Mboni – one of Zambia’s only paediatric ophthalmologists, trained by Orbis – carried out the surgery, and a short time later David was back at home with a new pair of glasses and a world full of opportunities.

Although he had to repeat Grade 3, David is in school and doing well. Now he can play football again, he dreams of one day playing for his favourite team, Chelsea. So passionate is he about the club that when they heard his story, our connections at Chelsea were happy to gift David something very special: a new Chelsea kit and a football, signed by all the Chelsea players.

So now David's truly got his eye on the ball, perhaps we all need to watch this space...

David shows us his football skills – and his somersaults – in a game with his brother Divine and friends.

Save a child's sight, change a child's future

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