Below is the personal testimony of Dreamscape Foundation Founder, Joseph Sehwani, on the life-altering event that led to the creation of our nonprofit’s mission and organization.
On September 21st, 2011, I was in my high school Spanish class. I was 16 years old.
I rubbed my right eye and noticed some blurring. The sensation was similar to taking a quick glance at the sun and looking away. Suddenly, the whiteboard at the front of the room looked blurry.
In a panic, I dismissed myself from class and called my parents. From that point on my sight loss would only worsen. I was taken to numerous doctors in and out of state. Optometrists to neuro-ophthalmologists suspected optic swelling.
For my mother and I, the suspected diagnosis was even dimmer. We knew what was happening – Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON).
LHON is a hereditary disease that entails a sudden and rapid loss of central vision. This disability-orientated disease has been in my mother’s family for years. My maternal grandmother lost her sight over 20 years ago, and my uncle lost his sight at the age of 11.
However, he was fortunate to recover three years later.
My grandmother wasn’t so lucky. I watched her experience the full effects of LHON while I was growing up, but I never imagined it would happen to me.
This event caused me to view life in a different way than I did before. It accelerated my maturity, forced me to prioritize my plans, adjusted my moral compass, and taught me to rely on my faith.
Ultimately, it led me to create Dreamscape.
Knowing how isolated and difficult my life had become, I wanted to reach out to others in the same predicament and lighten their burden. I wanted to do everything in my power to help those also suffering from a sudden disability. I wanted to be their motivation and inspiration.
While nothing in life could have ever prepared me for this moment, I had a pivotal realization: I had only lost my sight – not my vision. In fact, LHON gave me a clarity I didn’t have before. It gave my life purpose as a created Dreamscape Foundation to help others suffering from disabilities.
Now, together with friends, family, and our organization’s supporters, we stand at the forefront of improving the lives of those with visual impairments while simultaneously raising money toward research for a cure.