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Cacao, Courage, and Clarity: Adwoa Asongwaa's Visionary Tale

news | Ghana | May 26, 2023

Adwoa Asongwaa supported her ten children on her own by farming cacao until cataracts robbed her of sight. Thanks to a 10-minute surgery, Asongwaa was able to see her grandchildren for the first time. This is her story.

Ghana is one of the world's largest producers of cacao beans. The country’s tropical climate, abundant rainfall, and proximity to the equator (in what is known as the “cacao belt”) make it the perfect setting for this cash crop.

Meet Adwoa

Cacao farming is typically carried out by small-scale producers, like 70-year-old Adwoa Asongwaa.As a widow, Adwoa Asongwaa relied on cacao farming to support her ten children for years. But five years ago, she lost her vision entirely due to cataracts.

"During my active years as a farmer, particles, and dirt kept flying into my eyes as I tended to my farm. Rubbing my eyes always relieved me until it didn't work anymore. That day, I went home complaining to my children about the pain in my eye. The pain turned into a cloudy film that appeared over my eyes, and before I knew it, my sight was gone."

Asongwaa’s daughter Alice Acquah, 36, has taken care of her since then. Alice's children, aged between five and three, have also been helping their grandmother get around the house. But on days when no one was at home to help, all of Asongwaa’s necessities were placed within reach until someone came home to help. Asongwaa had to bear the darkness in solitude.

The Sweet Relief of Restored Sight

This past year, Asongwaa’s children decided to seek medical help. Alice accompanied her on her first trip to the Tarkwa Municipal Hospital, where HCP Cureblindness supported a surgical outreach that removed the cataract from Asongwaa’s left eye and restored her sight.

"The first surgery was not scary because I knew everything would go well. My whole life, I have not done any surgery, so I had no expectations,” she said. “In a short time, the surgery was over. There were no complications afterward."

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Then, just last month, Asongwaa returned to undergo the same procedure on her right eye. Again, she and Alice sat in the waiting area of the Eye Clinic in the Tarkwa Municipal Hospital – this time accompanied by her five-year-old granddaughter Veronica. Veronica was so excited her grandmother now had "fresh eyes" that she insisted on joining to see Asongwaa’s right eye fixed as well.

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After a simple ten-minute surgery, Asongwaa walked out of the hospital beaming with her vision fully restored. For the first time since Veronica’s birth, Madam Asongwaa could finally see her grandchildren.

"They are healthier and much more beautiful than I imagined,” she said. “With my sight restored, I can help care for them instead of these little ones caring for me. The fact that I was helpless truly frustrated me. Thankfully, I can now babysit as my daughters go out to work. God bless the doctors."

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