Linh's footballing dreams

October 2019

When 12-year-old Linh was diagnosed with strabismus in his right eye - his family needed no introduction to the condition. His mother had already been treated by an Orbis-supported team for the same condition. So when she realised Linh was struggling with his vision - she knew she needed to get him treatment as soon as possible.

12-year-old Linh is a keen football player who has loved the sport since he was 3 years old. He also loves to read comic books, his favourite character out of these is Doraemon. We meet him and his family at their home which is surrounded by lush vegetation, and soon after we arrive, Linh’s mother offers us some fruit, telling us she grows this in her garden.

Linh and his mother settle down next to us whilst his grandmother and great grandparents sit close by, and talkative and excitable Linh wastes no time in starting to tell us about his recent operation.

When Linh had surgery to correct his strabismus at the Orbis-supported Can Tho Children’s Hospital a couple of months before we met him, most of his close-knit family went along for support. He tells us “I was both happy and nervous, the doctors were very kind.” Linh tells us “the surgery has helped me with confidence.”

When his 6-year-old brother joins us, their close bond is immediately evident. The temptation of a quick game of football is soon too strong to resist, and the boys run off to play, and are quickly joined by some friends.

After the game, Linh returns to talk to us. He tells us that the condition impacted most areas of his life including his playtime, saying “when I played football, I would see the ball more to the right than it was, but I had to adapt”. He tells us that he also used to kick the ball in the wrong direction as a result of his vision problem. Linh’s thirty-minute walk to school was nerve wracking for him as their home is near a river and some swamps. He also struggled to negotiate cars and motorcycles during the walk - which made it very dangerous. At school, Linh was teased about his eye condition, and other kids often refused to play with him.

However now his strabismus is gone, he really enjoys being at school, and his face lights up as he tells us that he aspires to become a teacher or a professional soccer player!

Linh’s mother tells us about her strabismus which affected her right eye too. Like Linh, her condition was eventually treated by an Orbis-supported team. She tells us that she is glad Linh had his vision corrected while he is still young, and tells us “if I had my sight corrected earlier, I would have been more confident and less insecure about my appearance.”

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