In Pictures: Meeting Mariya

When we meet three-year-old Mariya, it’s almost impossible to picture her as anything other than the bubbly, energetic and confident young girl who is playing and laughing in front of us. However, until recently, this little girl’s future was at risk, as she was slowly losing her sight.

See how her life has changed

Paediatric patient Mariya from Cameroon watches as her doctors from the Flying Eye Hospital speak with her and her mother

It wasn’t until Mariya was two years old that her mother, Juliene, noticed that Mariya was always scratching her eye, and there was a white spot on her pupil. As soon as she realised, she took her to their local hospital, where Mariya was diagnosed with a cataract and referred to an Orbis-supported hospital.

There, she was told that the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital was coming to Yaounde, and fortunately, her daughter could get the operation she so desperately needed. However, Juliene was nervous at first, she told us: “When I first got the news I felt hurt that a child this small is going to be operated upon".

Despite her nerves, Juliene was determined to save her daughter’s sight, so she went ahead with the operation. And her bravery was rewarded - Mariya’s operation was a success!

Juliene is delighted with the outcome, telling us: “I really thank god for Orbis as Orbis saved my daughter … Mariya was operated with no complications. I’m really grateful.”

Mariya also seems to have enjoyed the experience of being on the plane: “Sometimes she says, take me to the plane where they cut my eye!” Juliene explains. Perhaps it was the Orbis teddy bear that she was given on board that made the difference; Mariya has become so attached that she has taken to sleeping with it.

And according to her follow up, which takes place a month after the operation - with Flying Eye Hospital staff - the long-term outlook is positive too!

Mariya’s operation took place just in time. Mariya started school in September, which she loves. She has lots of friends, which is easy to believe as we watch her chatting away and playing with her toys. Apparently, when her teacher leaves the room she sits in her seat and bosses the other children around – perhaps there’s a teaching career on the horizon!

You could help save another child like Mariya from blindness