After being blind for ten years, 16-year-old South African Philani Twala is getting his eyesight back. And it's all thanks to a beautiful community.
Twala suffered from a condition known as Keratoconus, a thinning of the cornea that causes serious visual distortions. He slowly lost his eyesight.
"I was just asking myself, 'why this thing happening to me?'" Twala says in the short documentary Open Eyes. "I will just have to skip school and stay in the house until I die."
In order to fix his eyesight, Twala needed a procedure to remove the cornea and replace it with an organ donor cornea from the United States. All told, the surgery was going to cost 18,000 South African Rand for each eye, or about 2,200 dollars in total. That prospect left him little hope.
Since Twala couldn't pay for the surgery, family and friends came together to pay for one eye. Then, a girl from Twala's school started a fundraiser. Along with her funds, they got an assist through Ster-Kinekor's Vision Mission, the media and gaming group's push to help children with bad eyesight. In South Africa, it's estimated that one-tenth of the 3 million 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders have vision problems.
With the whole community rallying behind him, Twala got the surgery.
Now, with his eyesight coming back, Twala is planning to watch a movie for the first time in a long time. The question is, what film should he watch? Share this story with the hashtag #OpenEyes and let Twala know what you think.