Megha smiling for the camera after her teacher referred her for an eye screening

Celebrating Saraswati Puja with Megha

May 2019

Megha, aged 12, loves reading and she wants to be a teacher when she grows up. But when problems with her vision – problems she didn't even realise she was having, until an Orbis-funded REACH screening revealed them – started to impact her school performance, she needed help.

When we caught up with Megha, she and her classmates were all busy celebrating Saraswati Puja, a festival that takes place across her region of Nepal. Saraswati Puja honours the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art and education and it's a particularly apt celebration for Megha, as she wants to be a teacher when she is older.

The community was a hive of activity and colour, and as the children lined up to receive their blessings we took a moment to talk to Megha's teacher Nisha about how Megha's problems in class slowly became clear. She told us:

We identified that she was unable to read the board. Then later on when we made every student one by one read out in the front, we found her problem with books also. This way, slowly, we came to know about her problem.

Nisha

Megha's schoolteacher

Megha with her teacher Nisha who first learnt of her sight issues when she struggled in the classroom

Schoolteacher Nisha, pictured during the Saraswati Puja festival

As those around her became aware of the issues Megha was having with her eyesight, it was suggested that she have her eyes checked when the Orbis-funded REACH screening camp arrived at her school. But for Megha herself, it wasn't until the screening revealed that she had amblyopia (lazy eye) – a condition that, if caught early, can be managed but left alone can lead to severe visual impairment and even blindness – that she realised she had a problem. As Megha told us:

When they did my eye check-up, I could not see with my one eye. I did not know.

Megha

Age 12

This is probably because her other eye was compensating. This in itself can cause serious visual problems later down the line. It is not unusual for children not to realise their vision isn't normal, and therefore not to say anything to a parent or teacher. This is why it is so important to get these programmes into schools so that they can proactively test children’s vision, and not just wait for a child to speak up.

Megha and her mother, pictured at home

Luckily for Megha, her condition was revealed in time and now she has a new pair of glasses. She chose the frames herself and wears them proudly both at home and at school, where her studies have improved significantly – her teachers have noticed a marked improvement and she no longer stumbles when reading aloud. Her favourite subject is Social Studies and she still loves reading.

Megha's life outside school is also much better. At home with her family, she can take more enjoyment in playing with her siblings and helping her mother with the household chores. She can also focus on her own teaching ambitions – there's no stopping her now.

I want to become a teacher, English teacher. I will teach in Nepal and I will teach small children.

Megha

Age 12

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