Belal’s Story: in the midst of the coronavirus, restoring sight continues

  • 06 Oct 2020

This is the story of a young boy who his life was impacted by vision impairment and coronavirus.

Belal Al Bashete is a 9-year-old school boy, from Khan Yunis with a dream to become an actor. He enjoys playing and watching cartoons.

Last July, he lost his sight in his left eye due to an old trauma.

Losing his vision has impacted his childhood negatively. Running around, playing, reading and watching cartoons are no longer normal day-to-day activities for him.

Belal was grappling with visual impairment. Then the shutdowns, and tighter movement restrictions have forced him and his family members to stay inside during the first wave of coronavirus pandemic.

“Since I lost my vision, I have started feeling different from my peers. I felt I am no longer a normal child and stranger from other children of my age,” Belal said

Belal is not the only one who suffers from vision problems. There are 36 million people who are blind and 1.1 billion people live with some form of vision impairment.

During the shutdown, the situation of Belal and his nine family members has become incredibly challenging. Their financial situation has deteriorated since his father lost his job amid the current pandemic crisis.

“We are facing uncertain future. I am worried about my family, our health and economic situation. There are no jobs or money,” Belal’s father Mohammed Al Bashete said. “A friend of mine got infected with coronavirus. The death and infection rates in the West Bank are high.”

Despite all of the challenges, Belal did not give up on his education. His father said that Belal continued attending online classes.

Belal visited The St John of Gaza Eye Hospital to receive the eyecare services he needs.

After consultation and examination, the doctor advised Belal’s family that he should undergoes a vitreoretinal surgery procedure to help him to see again. Because his condition was critical, he was admitted to hospital immediately to receive the medical care he needed.

Belal feels safe and very special at the hospital. He loves to call it his second home.

He underwent a successful operation to restore his sight. The surgery was performed by St John of Gaza Eye Hospital.

Belal and his family were very pleased with the surgery result. His sight was saved.

The return of Belal’s smile is reason for hope and the motivation to keep The Fred Hollows Foundation and The St. John Eye Hospital Group’s work going through this difficult period.

Belal expressed his excitement to remove his silicon cap. He can now see clearly his parent, sisters, brothers and friends. He can’t wait to return home and play with his siblings.

The Fred Hollows Foundation’s work in Palestine is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

The Fred Hollows Foundation:

The Fred Hollows Foundation is an international development organization working to eliminate avoidable blindness. The Foundation works in more than 25 countries around the world, restoring sight to people in some of the most marginalised communities. In 2019, The Foundation screened 45,243 people and performed 6,639 eye operations and treatments including 1,064 cataract operations and 4,767 diabetic retinopathy treatments in Palestine.


St. John’s Hospital Group:

St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group is a historic hospital spanning over 139 years of history. We are working tirelessly to keep our doors open to patients, and providing medical and surgical services, especially during a pandemic that has devastated much of the world.