Rafael De Jesus lives in Letefoho, Ermera, one of the two land-locked districts in Timor Leste and the centre of the country’s coffee harvesting territory. Rafael lives with his wife in a traditional Timorese house in, and is a farmer by trade. Looming over the village is Mount Ramelau, providing shade from the scorching sun and humidity – a welcome relief for the local villagers. Rafael has three sons - one who works with the United Nations as an interpreter in the capital, the other two support their father on the farm. The family grows tropical fruits, particularly bananas, mangoes and mangosteens.
Ermera is three hours away from the national hospital in Dili. The trek from this
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rural region to central Dili is arduous. The dirt roads are steep, serpentine and stomach churning. Despite these challenging conditions, Rafael De Jesus and his son Juan Guan Gonzalez have made the journey to Dili, as Rafael is now legally blind. Rafael has bilateral senile cataracts. Over the past year there has been a painless, gradual reduction in vision in his right eye. During the last five months visual deterioration has also progressed in his left eye resulting in legal blindness in both eyes. Rafael can only see light in his right eye and has some vision in his left. To put this in context, the definition of legal blindness is a visual acuity of 6/60 or worse with both eyes open.
Read more about Rafael here (pdf 608kb)