Shireen Hermans, a 29-year-old mother from Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, has an eye disease called keratoconus, a condition which causes extremely blurred vision and light sensitivity.
Life is exceptionally challenging for Shireen, who has less than 8% sight in only one eye and is considered legally blind.
Behind her beautiful smile, gentle nature, courageous and resilient spirit, Shireen feels isolated and depressed due to her condition, which has interrupted her life and made simple tasks very difficult.
Shireen yearns for the simple pleasures in life – like seeing her daughters’ faces and helping them with their homework.
“For Shireen, sight loss means she can’t walk her young daughters to school or safely catch a bus with them. She simply can’t see the pavement or read the signs at the bus stop. It’s not safe for her to venture out alone. Living with keratoconus is like life in permanent lockdown.” – says Amanda Seccombe, Founder of The Eyes2Eyes Foundation.
Giving Shireen her sight back
At this stage, Shireen’s corneas (her eye’s outermost lens) are irregular, with steep troughs and cones.
As glasses and ordinary contact lenses will not restore Shireen’s sight, the only way for her to achieve functional vision and avoid total blindness is to receive costly custom-fit scleral lenses.
In November 2021, Shireen was referred to The Eyes2Eyes Foundation, an organisation dedicated to providing individuals the gift of sight, as corneal disease is vastly underfunded and under-resourced in public hospitals in South Africa.
Hoping to receive support from the public, the Eyes2Eyes Foundation, has launched a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy, with a fundraising goal of R25 000, which will allow Shireen to receive specialised lenses that will be designed and manufactured for her in New Zealand.
Funds raised will also cover the cost of Shireen’s fitting process which will be done in Cape Town, her monthly optometrists appointments and training on how to use the life-saving lenses.
“Restoring my vision will mean I can recognize the faces of my family and friends – not just their voices. I will be able to read to my girls. I wouldn’t have to rely on my daughter to read me prices at the stores and guide me with things all the time. Having my sight restored means I can get back to work and help with our financial problems at home. I will get my confidence and independence back and stop living a blurred depressed life, where I have to pretend everything is good” – says Shireen
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South Africa’s leading crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy has supported more than 10 000+ individuals and charities in setting up fundraising campaigns for medical fees, tuition and various causes in South Africa. The platform has thus far risen over R330 Million.