SURFSIDE BEACH — Dorothy Monroe is still overcome with emotion when discussing Abdul Panjwani’s decision to pay for her new eye, a gesture that has allowed Monroe the freedom and confidence to walk in public with her head held high.
“It feels really, really awesome,” she said. “I have been really, really in a great mood.”
Monroe, who lost her eye in an auto accident and was left with a visible open socket, met Panjwani when he came to the Salvation Army building in Freeport to volunteer after Hurricane Harvey. He happened to run into Monroe, who has been working at the organization for several years, she said.
Monroe later decided she wanted to purchase a mobile home, and Panjwani happened to have one for sale she could use, she said.
The two started talking more frequently and he surprised her with a gift, she said.
“He just told me he wanted to give me an eye,” she said. “That is how it came about.”
For those who met Monroe, it was easy to see she had no visible left eye, leaving an opportunity for the woman to be ostracized, Panjwani said. He thought she could benefit from an optical prosthetic, he said.
“I felt very bad,” he said. “I said, ‘It will be a free gift from me.’ I was going to help her.”
The decision to pay for Monroe’s eye also came from him being no stranger to hardship and overcoming obstacles, Panjwani said.
“From my country, I had this habit to help people,” he said. “I am doing these things forever.”
Panjwani came from Karachi, Pakistan, to the United States in 1993, he said. He started working at a Pizza Hut in Houston as a delivery driver before somebody robbed him and struck him hard in the eye, causing him to almost lose it, he said.
Panjwani later purchased Anchor Motel in Surfside in 2003, where he has enjoyed serving the community’s needs, he said.
“I grow from this community,” he said. “I bought the motel and I grew from the area.”
Monroe’s false eye is so realistic people won’t even be able to notice when they see her now, Panjwani said.
“You might have difficulty seeing which eye is bad,” he said.
The new prosthetic eye should last Monroe for a decade and give her a newfound sense of happiness, Panjwani said.
“That is good for about 10 years, and after 10 years you have to make another one,” he said.
Monroe, who received her new eye prosthetic Oct. 4 in Houston, is still trying to process the kind act. Panjwani’s act of compassion and selflessness has left her speechless, she said.
“I am very, very grateful,” Monroe said. “I can’t put that into words. There is no way. Thank you Mr. Panjwani for fixing my appearance. God bless you.”