Feeling Double the Love this National Twins Day

August 8th marks National Twins Day, a very special day—especially at Orbis! In honor of the holiday, we’re introducing you to some of the extraordinary sets of doubles in our Orbis family.

Meet Habtamu and his Twins

In September 2014, Habtamu—a father of three, including a set of twins—joined the Orbis team. He was the first employee hired to lead monitoring and evaluation (M&E) in Ethiopia, and he was well versed in how to use data effectively to inform and improve programs. But he was brand new to the eye care field.

Habtamu was offered the opportunity to visit an Orbis partner to see the work first-hand and learn more about eye care. Excited to learn more, Habtamu absorbed all the information and knowledge he needed to be successful in his new role.

Family First

When he returned home from the training, Habtamu started observing the eyes of those around him, especially his family. It wasn’t long before his new skills helped him notice that his three-year-old twins, Dagim and Soliyana, were struggling with their sight.

“So when I observed, I saw misalignment in the eyes of the twins. When they are kids, it is very difficult to notice. But one day I noticed that when they see to the right that both eyes are not seeing at the same time.” —Habtamu

Habtamu’s most important priority is taking care of his family. Once he noticed the irregularities, he and his wife jumped to action. They took the twins to a nearby eye clinic to see Dr. Mulusew, a pediatric eye doctor who also happened to be trained by Orbis.

Dr. Mulusew confirmed what Habtamu had suspected—that Dagim and Soliyana had strabismus, or misalignment of the eyes. During this fateful visit, Habtamu also learned that his own sight needed tending to, as he was diagnosed with myopia, or nearsightedness.

All three—father, son, and daughter—left the doctor’s office with new glasses that day.

“So I feel like I’m not only a project staff, but feel like I’m also one of the Orbis beneficiaries. Not only me, but also my kids.” —Habtamu

Habtamu is grateful that he was able to receive the training that helped him identify the issue when the twins were still very young. The twins’ school does not offer eye exams, so if Habtamu had never taken the position with Orbis, the issue may have gone unnoticed. If not treated early, strabismus can lead to severe vision loss.

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In honor of National Twins Day, your gift helps Orbis take care of families around the world.

Nearly seven years later, Dagim and Soliyana remain under the care of Dr. Mulusew in Ethiopia. Habtamu never misses an appointment. Their eyesight has improved tremendously, and Soliyana even says she wants to be an eye doctor when she grows up!

“My little girl, she says she wants to be an “Ye eyen hakim,” which means “eye doctor” in Amharic, an Ethiopian local language. She didn’t call it “ophthalmologist,” but I tried to tell her what an ophthalmologist is. Now she’s saying: “I want to be an ophthalmologist!” —Habtamu

Orbis supporters serve twins around the world

We love the story of Habtamu’s twins! Thanks to Orbis supporters, Dagim and Soliyana are just one of many sets of doubles we’ve had the pleasure to meet around the world.

Not only are Chhaya and Chhavi twin sisters, but thanks to Orbis supporters, they’re also soccer stars and Orbis-trained optometrists in their home country of India!

Chhaya and Chhavi Tiwary are twin sisters and optometrists breaking gender barriers and saving sight in India

Chhaya and Chhavi are seen here at the Akhand Jyoti Eye Hospital in 2019.

In Ethiopia, twin sisters Mirtinesh and Meskerem and their family received a water point from Orbis supporters to help fight blindness in their community. Access to clean water helps prevent blinding trachoma.

Mirtinesh and Meskerem wash their hands at the new water point.

Bahinda, a school teacher from Cameroon, suffered eye trauma as a young girl that left her partially blind. When she received surgery on board the Flying Eye Hospital, her twin sister supported her every step of the way.

Bahinda and her twin sister leaving the Flying Eye Hospital after a successful surgery.

In Vietnam, these twin babies were diagnosed with Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) after being born at just 29 weeks. At four months old, the twins are now thriving.

The twins snuggle with their family members, who couldn’t be happier to have received the help they needed for their newborns.

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