“I gave up hope my son would see”

Imagine having to flee your home to escape violence and persecution. Now imagine how this would feel if you were completely blind. At just six months old, this was Shahed’s experience.

Shahed's Story

Shahed was born in Mongdu, Myanmar. From birth it was clear to Shahed’s parents that something was wrong with his sight. His father, Elias, said: “He would not respond to our calls, and he could not walk properly.

“We had noticed white spots in his eyes, but we did not understand the problem. He couldn’t see anything. It was painful for us to know that our little boy could not see. It felt like a curse.

“Even though we knew something was wrong, we could not get him the treatment he needed.”

Shahed with his father Elias

Shahed was born with congenital cataracts, an inherited eye disease which causes permanent blindness in many children. A quick and simple surgery to remove the cataract in both eyes was all he needed to give him the chance of sight. But his parents had nowhere to turn. In Myanmar at that time Rohingya people had been stripped of their citizenship and were denied access to healthcare services.

In 2017 a wave of renewed violence against the Rohingya people in Myanmar began. This forced Shahed and his family, along with over 700,000 people, to make the heart wrenching decision to flee their home to find safety.

A treacherous and scary journey followed, made even harder for Shahed because he could not see.

Finding Safety and Hope

Cox's Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh

Eventually the family reached Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh, the largest refugee camp in the world.

When the family were made aware of a vision centre within the camp they took Shahed to be seen straight away. At the Orbis centre, Shahed was finally diagnosed and able to receive the sight-saving surgery he needed.

“I had given up all hope that my son would see. But now he can walk on his own. He enjoys playing sport and dancing with our neighbours. I am grateful to everyone who has restored my son’s sight.”

Help More Children Like Shahed


Today more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees live in Cox’s Bazar – half of whom are children. Our services are needed more than ever to give people access to the eye care they had been denied in Myanmar.

With your support we can continue to fund more medicine for eye conditions, train more community leaders to identify and refer people who need treatment, and fund more sight-saving surgeries like Shahed’s.

Please donate today to help more children like Shahed access sight-saving treatment

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