Dreams within sight

2016-07-19 10:48
Rieyaaz Carolissen was excited to meet the players of his favourite soccer team Ajax on Wednesday last week. The team heard of soccer-avid Rieyaaz’s plight and hosted him and his mother at the training camp in Parow.

Rieyaaz Carolissen was excited to meet the players of his favourite soccer team Ajax on Wednesday last week. The team heard of soccer-avid Rieyaaz’s plight and hosted him and his mother at the training camp in Parow.

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Just weeks after hearing the dreams of a young Hanover Park boy to have a chance at regaining vision, communities and organisations rallied together to help raise funds for his corneal transplant.

And by the end of today, Tuesday 19 July, Rieyaaz Carolissen will have a new cornea in his right eye.

Carolissen suffers from the rare eye disease, Keratoconus, where his right eye has deteriorated to the extent he lost 90% vision in the eye and needed a corneal transplant.
Through the efforts and what his mother Shaqeelah Carolissen calls as “favour and grace from God”, Rieyaaz was prioritised on the waiting list for a cornea that was sourced locally.

“I got a call on Monday morning from Rieyaaz’s doctor who let me know they found a cornea locally and he was prioritised as a recipient of the cornea as he is a scholar. I am so overwhelmed by it all,” she says.

Carolissen says the transplant that was initially set to total R70 000 including hospital fees – due to the cornea having to be imported – will now cost R42 000.

“Through the donations campaign and drive that started a few weeks ago after People’s Post placed the article, we were able to raise just over R10 000,” she says.
And although this may be a far shot off from their goal amount, Carolissen’s employer has offered to cover the shortfall so the operation may go ahead today.

Carolissen explains after the cornea transplant is done, doctors will focus on left eye which will also eventually receive a contact lens implant.

And the overwhelming response to donate towards 15-year-old Rieyaaz can also be attributed to local musician Jonathan Rubain, also from Hanover Park, after reading about Rieyaaz in People’s Post

Rubain took to his Facebook page on Wednesday 22 June saying that the story “broke (his) heart” and asked his followers what could be done to help Carolissen get donations for his operation.

“I think vision is very important. One of the most valuable things for me is to be able to see. And when I saw that a 15-year-old is having problems with his eye sight, I immediately felt in my heart that I have to do something about it,” Rubain says.

He adds he finds it “devastating that a young boy like Rieyaaz might lose his sight and I didn’t do anything to help” and immediately he started making calls in attempt to help the soccer crazy teenager.

Rubain says the post to his Facebook wall alone reached more than 110 000 people.

“The post was shared over 500 times. It was very well received. People immediately got involved and asked for a bank account to start making donations. It is with the help of people on social media that we have gotten this far. A few of my celebrity friends has also said that they will share it on their social media,” he adds.

Rubain says after being contacted by a bank, they in turn contacted Carolissen’s mother Shaqeelah who then was helped through the process of opening a bank account for donations.

“We need each other. And with the help of God, we can do all things. I love my community and will do anything I can do in my power to help my people,” he says.

“I am so excited for Rieyaaz after I got the news from his mother. It is just amazing what has transpired and thank you to People’s Post who played a huge part in this as well. And also thank you to the amazing and beautiful people who took the time and effort to sit down or go to a bank to make these donations. I am just glad I could play a role in helping this along as well,” Rubain says.

After reaching out to various organisations and individuals, Rieyaaz was also able to meet with his favourite local soccer team on Wednesday (13 July) morning.
Rieyaaz and his mother were hosted by the Ajax Football Club at their training camp in Parow and Rieyaaz was treated to a few gifts on his visit as well which has left him smiling ear to ear.

“We were so happy and it was a great day for Rieyaaz because he loves soccer and he was able to spend the day with this team who took such an interest in him. He has followed the team around even when they played away games when he was younger,” Shaqeelah says.

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