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Rabi, 7: “I can see people far away!”

March 2019

Rabi wants to be a policeman or teacher when he grows up, but his studies were impacted by his high myopia – a condition of near-sightedness that means he is unable to see objects at a distance of more than a few metres away. Now, after treatment and with a new pair of glasses, Rabi is looking to the future.

Seven-year-old Rabi is quite a shy boy. When we visit him at home, he doesn’t stray far from his father’s lap and quietly observes while we talk about the treatment he’s received through Orbis’s Refractive Error Among Children (REACH) programme, which originated in India. REACH identifies and treats children with refractive error, provides glasses where necessary, and captures screening data on a bespoke database.

A screening camp took place at Rabi’s school just over a month ago. He was diagnosed with uncorrected refractive error, and prescribed glasses.

“I did not know about Rabi’s problem,” his father Binod tells us. “The teachers in school told me he could not see.”

It transpires that Rabi had been struggling to see for at least six months before he received his glasses. His teacher noticed that he would often cry when asked to read or write, as well as tilting his head. However, the young children in Rabi’s class read out loud together when learning. As Rabi wasn’t reading individuallyit was tricky to identify vision problems. Later, when asked, he admitted that he couldn’t see properly, and that he could only see things up close. The teacher would ask him to sit right at the front of class, and even then, it sounds as though it wasn’t easy for little Rabi.

His sight was causing real difficulties in his day to day life; from his studies, to the half an hour walk to school with his older sister, and even identifying his own mother from a distance. He needed help. Rabi’s teacher told his family about the issues he was having.

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Rabi's teacher identified that issues with his sight were causing him problems

Luckily, the Orbis-funded REACH screening camp was due to take place at Rabi’s primary school, and he was one of the children that were diagnosed with visual impairment. Rabi has high myopia, or near-sightedness. He was prescribed a pair of glasses, which he received a few days later – and hasn’t taken off since.

The difference was immediate and noticeable. His teacher tells us that since he’s received his glasses, he’s been more outgoing and interactive with the other children in his class. Rabi has noticed a big change too – “Whenever the teachers ask to read and write, I can do it. I can read 1, 2 and kalam ka.” Any other changes? “I can see people far away!”

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Rabi’s glasses have made a huge difference

Now, Rabi enjoys school. He tells us that he likes reading – something he’ll definitely need his new glasses for. Home, on the other hand, is for playing. “I enjoy playing with my friends. I play with the cows, goats and my sisters.” While he seems shy at first, once he joins in the conversation he is quite outspoken and lively . He is also quick to show us the improvement in his sight.

“I can see things at a very far distance, even up to there!” he tells us happily, pointing at an unnamed spot on the horizon.

Had Rabi not been diagnosed and given the glasses he needed, it could have seriously hindered his development at school, and at home. He dreams of being a teacher or a policeman when he’s older, and now that he’s able to study well, his dream is in reach.

“I am happy that Rabi has got his glasses,” Binod tells us. “If he studies well, since we are poor people, he can be a big person in future.

[Orbis] helped me and my son and it feels good that my son can see. The organisation is doing a very good job!

Rabi's father Binod