By Dr Gina Sampson
(For those who don’t know, Dr Gina Sampson is one of the original founders of our organisation, and a long serving member of the branch)
A long, long time ago I was born in King Williams Town, Ciskei in the Eastern Cape, and when I was older saw a photo of myself, aged three, sitting on a pony in the Transkei. Life was sunny and secure, and I was one of three children plus the new baby — all girls — alas, no brother.
The big things were going to kindergarten, learning to read, turning 6 and getting a bicycle as a birthday present. We then moved to the big city of Pretoria. We played in our big garden and would drive to the farm where we would explore and watch our eldest aunt, who was “blind”. Our eyes were all “fine”.
The years went by, with study, some treats and wonderful Christmas journeys to the coast, into the teenage years, and finally; matric exams and career decisions.
Looking back, there were some incidents and strange accidents, but I never guessed that I had a problem. I shall speak in later writings about the important role of parents keeping informed and keeping an eye on their children’s eyes.
So I went to university, worked hard, had happy times and returned home (which was then in Cape Town) and started work in a medical laboratory.
Fine eyesight was needed…This was no problem! My reading and fine hand-work sight was still perfect, but there were a few other issues with my eyesight which started bothering me. That is when I drove my mother’s car to town and sat in an Ophthalmologists room. He studied my eyes carefully outside and inside, and then said; “do you want the truth?” I stiffened up and said “of course” and he answered “you have Retinitis Pigmentosa”, I was 19 years old at the time.