Patient Stories from Arba Minch
Collection of patient stories from recent HCP outreach in Ethiopia
Please enjoy these heartwarming stories showing the impact and joy of sight restoration from our most recent outreach in Arba Minch, where 987 sight restoring surgeries were performed.
Guye Roba is a 14 year-old boy from Bule Hora and had been blind for eight years. As the middle child out of 10 siblings, he was the only one who could not see in his family. Due to his blindness, Guye dropped out of school in third grade. According to his father, it was very difficult for him to stop his studies and stay home.
So far this year, he has made two appointments for surgery in Awassa, a city over three hours away from home, but both surgeries were cancelled. The first surgery was canceled due to a state of emergency and the latter because there were too many patients. Guye heard about the campaign from a team sent to his village to alert residents in communities near Arba Minch that the outreach was happening and when the screening team would arrive.
Guye received sight restoring surgery in both eyes. Now that he can see again he is looking forward to going home and starting school in September. He says he wants to be a teacher when he grows up.
Guye wanted to say thank you to the doctors restored his vision and all the supporters of HCP’s work.
Kamitil Kambata is a 20 year-old bilaterally blind woman from Dara, one of the woredas in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region of Ethiopia, part of the Sidama Zone, which is 350 km from Arba Minch. She lost her vision at the age two and cannot remember the last time she could see anything. She has four brothers, some older and some younger, but she has never seen them and can only tell them apart by the sound of their voice. She is not married and thought she would never be able to get married when she was blind. She looks forward to going home and seeing her family for the first time. Her father, who accompanied her to the outreach said, “words cannot express how I feel now that my daughter can see.”
Now that she can see, she said, “I want to do what every normal person is doing, contribute to my community and my family like everyone else. I used to wish to get married and have my own life, but that was only a wish. Because a woman who is the head of the household does 90% of the work at home. So it was just a wish. Now my wish has come true. I can start working and living on my own.”
Kamitil’s father went on to say, “the only thing you can do when you are poor is to wish for something good to happen. We have been wishing for this for a long time. Finally the doctors have come to do this good thing for our family. The only thing we can say to the doctors is that we hope God blesses them and their families so they can keep doing this work. We feel like our prayers has been answered by these doctors. Thank you.”
Kerry is from the Hamer Tribe, lives a small village on the border of Kenya and Ethiopia, and had a cataract in her left eye. She had never left her village before traveling to Arba Minch for the outreach and was brought by her son and daughter-in-law, who found out about the campaign from their friend Teddy, who assists with HCP in-country travel coordination in Ethiopia. They drove over 350 km on poor roads to get to the outreach. The entire family says they are so happy that she is able to finally see. Kerry is looking forward to seeing her five grandchildren clearly for the first time.
Miniret Lentiso is a 15 year old girl from Duna, which is about 300 km from Arbaminch or an eight hour bus trip. She lost her vision at the age of nine and has never attended school. As a girl, she used to help the family by fetching water from the river, collecting firewood and helping her mother in the home, but she stopped when she lost her sight. Once blind, she was always in the house, doing absolutely nothing. She needed to have one of her five brothers or three sisters sit with her at all times to look after her.
She said her family had taken her to many clinics and hospitals in the area, but there was never a solution, so they gave up and just kept her at home resigned to the idea she would never have a job, get married or have a real life. Her brother said the family will be so excited that she will have a future and be able to do whatever she wants, “she can decide for herself what her life will bring.”When asked how she feels after sight restoration, Miniret said, “I’m really grateful that I’m able to see and I don’t have any words. I don’t know what to say. My joy does not have any limits right now!
Miniret added, “I wish great luck to the doctors and the entire team who gave me my sight back. I want to go back to my village and try to find out a way to contribute to my family and the community to improve their lives. I want to help make it better because everyone in my family has helped me my entire life and now I want to give back to them for all that they have done for me.”