“Unless this is resolved I fear the problem of blindness”

Thanks to your support we can continue our mission to eliminate trachoma, the world’s leading cause of blindness, in Ethiopia.

Trachoma is a bacterial infection that effects the eyes and if left untreated can lead to permanent blindness. Across Ethiopia there are estimated to be more than 64 million people living in areas where trachoma is present. Deshere and her family, from a village in Sidama, Ethiopia, know first-hand the devastating impact trachoma can have.

They also know there is hope for the future.

Deshere’s Story

Deshere has been blind for over six years after losing her sight to the advanced stages of trachoma. When she shared her story in 2019 she said, “For a long time I had been suffering with eye problems prior to going blind. I had weeping and itching eyes, and redness.”

Unable to see, Deshere went to hospital when her symptoms became too much. She was given surgery which helped to ease the symptoms, but it was too late to improve her vision.

Deshere moved in with her cousin, his wife, and their son Ketema. She said, “I can move here to there with the support of people, but I can’t do anything. I remain at home.”

Deshere, sat far right, with her family at home.

Changing the Narrative

Also living with the family are Ketema’s nephew Addisu, aged seven, and his nieces, Dungure, six, and Genet, four. Ketema adopted them after their father died and their mother left.

All three children had been identified as living with the early stages of trachoma. But through a programme funded by Orbis and Sightsavers, a Mass Drug Administration (MDA) was planned to take place in their village later that day where the children would receive antibiotics to help treat the condition and stop the spread of trachoma.

The impact trachoma had on the children and Ketema was great. Ketema said, “When the children get sick, they are not able to see things clearly. Usually, their eyes weep and get red. It gets better but then it turns back frequently.”

The children had stopped going to school because of their symptoms, and Ketema had also had to pause his education to stay home to look after them.

“I pray their condition does not persist or worsen,” said Ketema. “Unless this is resolved I fear the problem of blindness.”

Hearing that the children had trachoma also worried Deshere. She said, “I feel sad, really. I have not seen their condition, but I am listening when people start telling me about their problem. I hope they will get better.”

The Mass Drug Administration Arrives

Addisu being measured before receiving antibiotics

When the MDA team arrived in the village Ketema’s nephew and nieces were among the first to receive the treatment.

A few days later Ketema updated that the treatment had helped to clear up the children’s infection. He says, “We have seen a change. It is nice, we really have seen an improvement.”

Thanks to your support you have helped rid more and more communities of trachoma across Ethiopia. Meaning more children like Addisu, Dungure and Genet don’t have to face the same fate as Deshere.

Leave a Gift in Your Will

Did you know that around 15% of our income comes from supporters’ gifts in their Wills? These selfless acts of kindness allow us to plan sight-saving eye care programmes like this one in Ethiopia with greater certainty and change the narrative for more children like Addisu, Dungure and Genet.

Find out more about leaving a gift in your Will to Orbis.

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