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Mandido can support her family again

October 2018

Mandido has lived with trachoma for the past three years, which has had a profound effect on her ability to work and support her family. Her husband suffers from a chronic illness and is unable to work meaning the 50-year-old grandma’s sight is crucial for their future.

She tried to undergo surgery previously in Ethiopia, but was too afraid. That was until she met Orbis-trained Integrated Eye Care Worker Abiyot, who encouraged her to get the treatment she needed.

Life before surgery

Despite the pain in her eyes, Mandido was quick to make a joke during our first meeting. When asked how old she is, the mother of seven quickly replied – “25 years old.” The whole room laughed. She thought that her real age is around 50 years old, but she's not so sure. We met her in a health facility in Gamo Gofa in southern Ethiopia, where Mandido was about to undergo surgery.

She had the late stage of trachoma – the world’s leading cause of infectious blindness. For more than three years, she was living in pain, suffering from an itching, burning sensation in her eyes. She described her situation: “Even in the night-time I can’t see anything. People support me. Having this eye problem is very difficult for me.”

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Mandido supports her chronically-ill husband, their seven children (between 35 and 13 years old) and grandchildren

Trachoma has had a profound impact on Mandido’s life. The condition means that even basic activities, such as cooking and cleaning, are very difficult. Her children are around to help her and guide her, but she continues to cook and care for the ones that still live with her. She also cares for her husband, who suffers from chronic hypertension – meaning he is unable to work. “I support him – even cooking, washing his clothes. I don’t have much income. But I cook bread and the likes. I sell the bread at the market.”

It’s clear that having her sight is crucial, not only to Mandido, but to her whole family.

Even at night, I can’t see anything. People support me. Having this eye problem is very difficult for me. I don’t have much income. I sell the bread at the market. My sight is very important. It helps me to support my family. I have difficulties in public gatherings – speaking to neighbours, attending funerals, going to the market. It’s difficult having these problems.

Mandido

Trachoma patient

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With Abiyot, who successfully assured Mandido about the operation

Finding the courage

Mandido’s operation was conducted by Abiyot, an Orbis-trained Integrated Eye Care Worker. In Mandido’s case, this operation will be second time lucky. She had previously had her condition screened, and was referred to a nearby hospital for surgery. When she arrived, with little understanding of what the surgery would entail, she became too scared and was unable to go through with it.

However, when Abiyot met her in her village and identified her condition, he was able to gently explain what would happen, and counselled her on the surgery; encouraging her to seek treatment. His approach worked, and she found the courage to come to the health centre he worked at for surgery.

Life after surgery

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She says supporting her family will become easier for her following the operation

When we catch up with Mandido at her home a few days later, she is feeling unwell from a cold, but still invites us in. She lives in a traditional Dorze hut, in a small plot of fenced-off land. There are three other buildings in the plot, shared by her family. She is surrounded by her children and grandchildren when we arrive. Abiyot inspects her eye and says that it is healing well. The family seem extremely pleased. As it is not yet a week since her operation, she still has her stitches in – but these will be removed after one week, and Abiyot explains that he provides education on how to stop future trachoma infection.

“I’m very happy to have had the surgery,” Mandido tells us. She has been resting for the past few days. Although she hasn’t been able to start working yet, she assures us that she thinks it will be easier following her treatment; meaning her role in supporting her husband should, hopefully, also become easier.

The itching is relieved and the pain is decreasing since the surgery. I feel better now than before the surgery!

Mandido

Trachoma patient

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Now Mandido wants to help others with Trachoma

Abiyot’s calming approach has clearly had an effect. Having previously been so fearful herself, she explains that she wants to meet others suffering from trachoma and tell them to visit the health centre and seek help.

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