Meet Amani

Amani smiles for the camera

Amani, 28, is a sports fan from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda who is starting his own non-profit organization. He first recognized his vision loss as a child when his parents noticed he received better grades when he sat at the front of the class. As a shy kid, Amani preferred sitting in the back.

At the age of 6, he was incorrectly diagnosed with myopia. After Amani’s family moved to Uganda, his mother sought out another medical opinion. There, he was diagnosed with glaucoma after years of deteriorating vision due to the original misdiagnosis.

Amani’s family left Uganda because he needed medicine that wasn’t available there. They decided to move to Cleveland because of the Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute. It was a Cleveland Clinic doctor who recommended Cleveland Sight Center to Amani.

Since first coming to CSC in his early 20s, he’s utilized the clinic, braille classes and employment services program. He can now read braille and works a job he loves, but the self-confidence he gained through the services from CSC made the biggest difference in his life.

“Cleveland Sight Center helped me build confidence in myself,” Amani says.

He urges those in the visually impaired community to reach out to CSC and take advantage of the many available resources.

“Do not hesitate to walk into Cleveland Sight Center’s doors. Cleveland Sight Center to me is a hope center,” he says with a smile.

Amani genuinely does smile when he talks about CSC. It’s also the one word he would use to describe his time here. When Amani visits CSC, he talks to people with vision loss, notices how confident they are, and hears staff members telling clients what they can achieve.

“All the people that I've met here, they're always smiling at me,” Amani said. “Once I walk out of this building, people ask me, ‘Why are you smiling for no reason?’ And I answer with ‘it's just that I found myself.’”

Amani works the third shift at Southwest General hospital, where he takes care of elevators and stairwells to make sure they are clean. He does this work with love because he knows his supervisor, manager and HR director trust him to do a good job. Amani knows they could have chosen a sighted peer for the job and he takes his work very personally. It makes him happy to know patients who need help are coming in to a clean environment.

Amani says without CSC, he wouldn’t be the smiling, hardworking Amani he is today.

“Cleveland Sight Center pushes me to be a better person, the better version of myself.”

In case you needed any extra proof that Amani is an extraordinary person, he is also in the process of starting his own non-profit to benefit people with disabilities in Uganda. It all began with a trip back home, where he saw a woman struggling to cross the street. He helped her get to where she needed to go, and ever since then he’s made efforts to help those with disabilities. Since that first trip, he’s started a group for people with disabilities, where he passes on the knowledge and experience he’s gained with CSC. He wants to raise awareness about the disabled community, especially in areas with poor communities.

“We need to give people opportunities. If I was not given an opportunity in this country, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I can now support people back home and raise awareness for low vision and other disabilities.”

Amani wants people who don’t know much about the blind and low vision community to remember that we are all more alike than they think.

“We are people just like them,” Amani says. “The difference is you have 20/20 vision, and I'm blind. I can't see, I'm low vision. I need extra support for me to have my vision. But we are the same people. We are equal. There is no difference.”

From the staff, to donors and volunteers, Amani is thankful for everyone involved with CSC.

“Thank you for all that you guys do. I can't stop thanking everybody.”