Blanca Rodriguez was told to be prepared because her husband would abandon her; she cried on the bus all the way back home with her 3-year-old daughter on her lap. She had to face reality and tell her husband that their firstborn girl was going blind. She chose to not to listen to what people said, that “when a premature child is born with a disability, often, fathers leave their family for good. Thankfully, that wasn’t my case and my husband stayed with me and Liseth,” said Blanca, recalling the day when she returned from a doctor’s appointment with her daughter. Soon after Liseth turned 4, her admission at a local school was revoked. Instead, she was sent to a special school for the blind.
Blanca was discouraged, but when the doctor of the special school told her that there might be a chance that an eye surgery could help Liseth, she went to the national children’s hospital for an appointment. At the children’s hospital, “the doctor told me that it was too late and that maybe Liseth could wear glasses, but was no guarantee of any sort of improvement,” Blanca shared with disappointment. Though in the midst of so much impediment, Blanca found herself praying to God,
“I asked Him for hope. I said, ‘Please Lord, show me a light of hope, something to help us’, and so He did, when later through a neighbor I heard that children could be enrolled in a Compassion program with many benefits.”
So, Blanca visited the Compassion Development Center, and Liseth who was turning 5 years old, began attending the project. She was enrolled in the Child Development Sponsorship Program (CDSP) where she had her first birthday celebration and also started interacting with new friends. Although when Liseth is asked about her first celebration, she is not able to recall the moments with clarity due to her low sight ability at that time. Trying to accept Liseth’s condition seemed to be the easiest way to cope with the situation, according to Blanca. “Liseth was attending the special school and
she was enjoying attending the project where she felt loved and protected, so we thought that this is how our life would be from now on.”
As part of a requirement of Liseth’s file at the project, they needed a document with the actual diagnosis, “We were very happy to have Liseth in the project and after listening to her medical history, we wanted to make sure she had the proper care. That’s why we decided to take her to new checkups and find out a diagnosis for her condition.” Blanca and Sonia took Liseth back to the national children’s hospital and they made many appointments with many of the best doctors, but with no results. Sonia explained, “The doctors said that there wasn’t anything to be done but to accept that Liseth was going blind. Yet there was still no diagnosis, so I contacted our Partner Facilitator to explain the situation and she provided the contact of a private doctor.”
Sonia was concerned about Liseth’s health because she was already 7 years old, and there was no treatment to help her, so she requested a medical fund to take Liseth to a private ophthalmologist. She recalled, “We went to a private clinic in San Salvador city;, I was there with Blanca and Liseth. We couldn’t believe what the doctor told us, he said that Liseth’s right eye could improve its vision with a cornea transplant, but it needed to be scheduled as soon as possible, because Liseth’s sight was only 5 percent, and if it lowered down to 0 percent there would be no way to reverse it.” At home, Blanca was thankful to God for opening this opportunity for her daughter, and Liseth was already spreading the news that God was going to give her new eyes. But when Francisco, Liseth’s dad, heard about the transplant surgery, he refused it. “He was afraid that the anesthesia could kill Liseth,” explained Blanca.
A brave Liseth went to the project and said to her tutor, “I would like to speak with Director Sonia please.” She and Sonia sat by the entrance of the church temple and Liseth said, “Director Sonia, I’m not afraid to have this surgery, but my dad doesn’t want me to have it.” They prayed together that afternoon and the following days on the same spot by the entrance of the church temple. Liseth would pray, “Lord, thank you because you will provide wisdom for my dad, so I can have my surgery.” As Liseth prayed, the surgery process continued, and then the project received a Compassion major medical fund to cover all medical expenses for her surgery. Suddenly, Sonia received a phone call from the ophthalmologist, telling her that the cornea bank in the United States had sent a cornea for the transplant and that the surgery must be scheduled the following day. The only thing missing was Francisco’s permission. At home, Liseth told him, “Please dad, please let me have my surgery.” In her room, Liseth prayed even harder, and since Christmas was a few weeks away, she prayed, “Dear Lord, I want to be able to see. That’s what I want for this Christmas.”
The following day, Blanca took Liseth to the project, where Sonia was hoping to receive the whole family to take them to the clinic. As Liseth and Sonia alone were boarding the van, Francisco showed up at the last minute, ready to board with them. Arriving at the clinic, the ophthalmologist spoke with Francisco, explaining that in this case, there was no risk at all of harming Liseth or Liseth’s eye. The margin of error in this surgery was 0% and that the only thing that could actually happen was an improvement for Liseth’s sight. Francisco then granted his permission, nodding his head and shaking the doctor’s hand; so, the surgery proceeded.
Three weeks after the surgery, it was Christmastime, and Liseth’s new cornea in her right eye was responding as expected. Each day her sight was getting better little by little. Eventually, Liseth was able to see her mom. She said, “Mom, you’re very pretty.” And when she looked at herself in a mirror, she exclaimed, “My skin color looks like my dad’s!” Everything was so new to Liseth – colors, shapes, and sizes – but most importantly, for her, it was a wonderful experience that she didn’t have before. She gained so much confidence now that she is able to choose her clothes each morning! “We’ve never seen Liseth this thrilled. She was already a happy child, but now she is blossoming, happier than ever. She loves to color pictures and stays inside the lines, she is able to draw and to write,” shared Sonia. Liseth’s faith has grown stronger and she is excited about this new journey, where she will achieve all her personal and professional goals. And she doesn’t mind applying her eye drops each hour, because she knows that she must take good care of this huge blessing, “I’m happy with my new eyes!” Liseth said joyfully.
Blanca acknowledged with thankfulness, “There is hope, God has been good by helping us through the [Compassion] project, and this could’ve never been possible without the support we have received.”
Liseth has been admitted back into a regular school and also, she will have the blessing, that in one year, the ophthalmologist will begin treating her left eye as well.