Launtia Cuff, Gleaner Writer
With the Ministry of Education's mantra 'Every Child Can Learn, Every Child Must Learn', one eight-year-old-boy has had his education interrupted indefinitely as a result of a school-related accident that left him partially blind in the left eye.
Timmoy Hazel, who should have started grade four in September, has been out of school since April this year when the incident took place.
"He was drinking some water at the pipe. He was going back to class and a little boy hid behind the pipe (and) fling a stone hit him, bursting two places in his eye. I had to run to the doctor with him. The doctor sent me to the University Hospital, where they said they had to do an emergency surgery. From he had the surgery, he hasn't been back to school," Timmoy's father, Omar Hazel, said.
Timmoy's story was brought to light shortly after the incident, but his father said that although he had received some help, he was in need of more assistance as he still had not recovered financially from the expenses of his son's first operation, and his son would soon be required to do another procedure in an effort to improve sight in his left eye before he would be able to return to school.
"Even though people try to assist me along the way, I had to keep borrowing money most of the time, and all of that money has to be paid back. I know this one is going to be more hectic for me," Hazel said.
He added that he had made contact with the Ministry of Education, but nothing had come out of it.
"I spoke with Ministry of Education. They said I have to bring in my receipts. I brought in all my receipts. From there, they said they'd send it to the Ministry of Finance. From that time, I haven't got a response. It was a good time - nearly three months ago."
Hazel said that the parents of the child who caused injury to his son had contributed $30,000 to expenses, which was only a fraction of the cost, and had since removed their son from the school and there had been no further contact with them. For the most part, Hazel said, he has had to bear the majority of the cost on his own.
He said, however, that if all goes well with the second procedure, his son could regain up to 75 per cent of his sight in the affected eye.
"The other surgery he's supposed to do now right now is to put a contractual lens into the eye. The doctors explained to me that he will be able to see around 50 to 75 per cent after the surgery. The doctors explained to me that the surgery can be any day now; they said they would give me a call. I haven't heard from them since August, although they said it would have taken place in August.
"The doctor told me she was waiting on the consultant to hear his final view on it. She is the one I'm waiting on right now," he related.
Hazel said based on what he has been told by doctors, by the time his son is 13 years old, he would be required to do another procedure.
"The doctor is saying to me that after this surgery, by the age of 13, he has to do another surgery again to remove it because his eye is going to get larger and wider. So I know it's not going to be a one-time thing," he told Rural Express.
While Timmoy remains at home, his father does his best to assist him with reading and math. Hazel recognises that his support is limited.
He also said his son is unable to work for long periods as a result of the situation as he starts complaining of headaches and feeling dizzy after a while.
Timmoy said he is looking forward to the surgery. He wants to be able to see from his eye and return to school.
"I miss school because I want to learn at school. I miss playing with my friends and working together," the eight-year-old said.
In an effort to help raise funds for his son, Hazel said they had been doing walkathons and placing tins wherever they could to get individuals to contribute.
If you are able to help Timmoy Hazel, please contact his father, Omar Hazel, at 429-4520.