Belay Bonger and her nephew arriving at the health center

Saving sight in Ethiopia: Belay’s story

Belay suffered excruciating pain in her right eye. As time passed, the pain grew and her vision worsened. In December 2020 Belay had an eye evaluation at an Orbis-supported health center which led to sight-saving surgery, just in time. See how the kindness of supporters like you changed her life forever.

Protecting People From Blinding Trachoma

Belay is one of millions of people who have experienced vision loss due to trachoma. Trachoma is an infectious disease and one of the leading causes of blindness globally. Thanks to Orbis supporters, our work to help people like Belay continued, even during COVID-19.

In December, we were able to move forward with the Mass Drug Administration and Eye Screening program in Ethiopia. The Orbis team safely treated 7.5 million people with medicine to protect them from trachoma's spread.

During the MDA, anyone who showed active signs of trachoma received a referral for surgery at a clinic.

Belay Faced a Life of Darkness and Pain

In rural southern Ethiopia, 58-year-old Belay used to enjoy spending time with her children and husband. She grew and sold a local crop called enset, and they scraped by. But her children married and her husband passed away, leaving her all alone.

Belay had already lost sight in her left eye due to glaucoma. Then in September, Belay suffered vision loss and unbearable pain in her right eye. She became isolated from her community. Because she could no longer work, she fell ever deeper into poverty.

Sadly, this story is not unusual in a country where there is limited access to quality health care. Many people in communities across Ethiopia suffer from treatable and preventable illnesses like trachoma. But they often encounter barriers to receiving the care they need.

Last month in Ethiopia: Millions of people like this girl received medicine to protect against blinding trachoma — the disease that caused blindness and excruciating pain for Belay.

Hope in Sight for Belay

Belay's fortunes took a life-changing turn when her nephew brought her to a local health center. After examining Belay, they told her they could not provide the care she needed. But they referred her to an Orbis-supported eye health center an hour away.

Belay and her nephew made the long journey to Agenna Health Center. An Orbis-trained health worker confirmed the trachoma diagnosis and gave her pain-relieving medicine. They also scheduled her urgent surgery to restore her sight.

I expect my surgery to be suc­cess­ful and to see clear­ly again. I would like to sell enset again and do all the things I want with­out my vision being a prob­lem.” ~ Belay, just before going into surgery

Belay’s surgery went very well, and it was just in time to save her sight. If Belay hadn't been able to get the treatment she needed for her trachoma, she would have experienced irreversible blindness.

Supporters like you help Orbis in the fight to prevent and treat avoidable blindness for people like Belay.

Your Impact in the Fight Against Trachoma

Orbis has been working to eliminate trachoma in Ethiopia for more than 20 years.

Support from people like you has created a positive ripple effect that extends far beyond one person. With healthy sight, children are able to receive an education, parents can provide for their families, and communities thrive.

In a year with few bright spots, the kindness of the Orbis family has been a ray of sunshine! See how you have helped transform lives:

For Belay, the Future Is Bright

Despite the challenges she faced, Belay has received so much more than she thought possible.

She can make a living without depending on others to help her.

She can now fully participate in the social life of her community.

Her world, which was getting increasingly darker, has suddenly become so much brighter.

And it’s thanks to you that Orbis can do this great work in Ethiopia!


Will you help Orbis build on this life-transforming work and help more people like Belay?

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