Paediatric patient Saliou smiles after receiving treatment

In Photos: Changing lives in Cameroon – Saliou

May 2018

We recently visited Cameroon to see how your support is transforming lives and we picked up a few inspiring stories to share with you.

Cameroon has the fifth highest prevalence of blindness in the world and so much of this is avoidable. We had the pleasure meeting a handful of the 150,000 people who have lost their sight in the country - read one of these inspiring stories below.

Saliou's story

The first story we’re sharing is little Saliou’s from Youande. He experienced a challenging start to his childhood. At a very young age, his parents spotted problems with his vision. His eyesight was so bad that he was forced to drop out of school, suffered from severe headaches and even fell down the stairs at home once. Thankfully, his cataract was removed on board the Flying Eye Hospital and now he is in school and looking ahead to a bright future!

Saliou’s eye issues began when he was three years old when his parents noticed that his right eye would slide sideways then focus again. He could not see very far and would fall over when playing. His worried mother, Hawaou, stopped him going outside to play, in case he injured himself.

When his family first took him to the doctor, they were told he needed glasses. In fact, a year later it was discovered that Saliou actually had a cataract, and was referred to our programme at the Magrabi Eye Institute. The family were told about our Flying Eye Hospital visit to Yaounde, and that Saliou would be operated on board the plane.

Cataracts account for 50 percent of Cameroon’s cases of blindness, many of them are in children.

Smiling child in new glasses.

Saliou's mother didn't want to let him play outside in case he hurt himself

Saliou was the first in his family to ever have an operation. Hawaou tells us that when Saliou went for his surgery, she was scared.

“I thought about it a lot, but his father told me that everything was going to be fine. Now, the eye problem has gone, so I’m happy. Saliou, on the other hand, was just happy to be on the Flying Eye Hospital. He talks about it a lot.”

Saliou's mother

The difference in Saliou’s life since his operation has been significant. Last year, the problems with his eyesight had been causing him huge problems. He would have severe headaches and had a serious aversion to light. He struggled to see the blackboard and write.

“It really disturbed him last year. The school would call me to come and pick him up."

Saliou's mother

Children in class.

Eventually, the headaches were happening so frequently that little Saliou was forced to drop out of school.

Our intervention, thanks to the help of our supporters, has changed that. Saliou loves writing and writes in chalk all over the walls. His mother doesn’t even seem to mind. She just seems happy to see him smiling and enjoying himself again. It’s not just writing – he is fascinated by our camera, and soon works out how to scroll through the pictures we have taken. A tiny journalist in the making.

His mother tells us: “He’s very active. He will hurt his head again now – but not from his eyes, from playing!” Saliou likes playing football, and changes into a Chelsea shirt the minute we arrive at his house. Now he can play football to his heart’s content, with no worries of injury due to his sight. His mother tells us he plays a lot now, with his three brothers and sisters.