Bitisha, journalist in the making

Bitisha's ambition is to be a journalist, and she wants to support her parents when she grows up. The 15-year-old had always “hated family photos," due to a squint that meant her eyes were misaligned - until Orbis helped Bitisha access the surgery she needed to correct the intermittent exotropia, or strabismus, that caused her squint.

We first meet Bitisha at her school, surrounded by her peers. From there, she takes us to her mother’s shop and Bitisha picks up her bike so we can follow her home. She ordinarily cycles the short distance to the shop where she leaves her bike before heading to school. Her ride home takes us through a scenic route with open fields. Bitisha is in noticeably high spirits.

Bitisha from Nepal rides her bike home

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At Bitisha’s family home, the beautiful colours of the exterior are immediately striking. The house sits on a compound with two others. Behind the houses, fields open out as far as the eye can see, creating a sense of peace and tranquillity. We settle down to have a conversation with Bitisha, who tells us with a grin that she recently turned 15. Her left eye is still visibly sore from her recent surgery.

Bitisha tells us a bit about her family and her hobbies which include reading. She talks us through her typical day; “I wake up at around 5am and freshen up, after that, I get ready and go to college. After college, I return home and finish household activities”. Bitisha also tells us about her school, saying that she enjoys it and that there are a number of subject options available to students. Bitisha tells us that she enjoys sociology.

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We start to discuss Bitisha’s challenges with her vision, asking her when she first noticed that she had some issues with this. In response, she says: “whenever I took photographs, my sight would be non-aligned and I didn’t use to like my photos since I came to know from childhood.” This is quite telling of the transformation in Bitisha since she had surgery as so far, she has clearly enjoyed having her photos taken. Bitisha tells us that at school, other students would also comment on her sight asking “oh, your eyes are not aligned, why is that so”?

Previously Bitisha wore glasses, which broke. After that, surgery was recommended. Living in a village however, her parents did not have much information on the procedure and were reluctant to agree. She tells us “they thought that the operation could be dangerous and it would affect my eye in the long run.”After the team from the Orbis-funded REACH (Refractive Error Among Children) programme visited her school, Bitisha was finally able to convince her parents to agree to the surgery, perhaps a testament to her seemingly determined nature. She subsequently had this done at Mechi Eye Hospital.

Bitisha tells us about her surgery, breaking into a huge grin as she says, “it was on 16th January and I think everything has become nice." She is thankful that she finally had her surgery done and feels that the screening is useful for many other children who might be in a similar position to hers.

Bitisha's mother

She had com­plained that it was painful while she stud­ied, but most­ly because her teach­ers and friends tease her, she want­ed to have the surgery.”

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