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Sightsavers Reports

Surrounded by danger, even in her own home

November 2017
Aklima clings to the bars of one of the windows in her home.

Three-year-old Aklima’s home, in Bangladesh, is surrounded by large square ponds used for keeping fish – one of which is about five metres from her front door.

The village of Harulia Bazar, where Aklima lives, is prone to flooding, so members of the community have learned to build their homes from corrugated metal and bars. They also raise them from the ground on concrete blocks.

When the monsoon season hits and rain starts to fall, the mud in the village becomes very slippery. This spells danger for any small child, let alone one who is slowly going blind from cataracts.

Aklima holds her mother's hand as they walk past a pond by her home.

Concerned parents

Aklima has had cataracts in both her eyes since birth, but her parents only noticed the problem recently when they realised she couldn’t see things they gave her. Sharmin Akhter, Aklima’s mother, told us: “When I gave her something to eat, she couldn’t find the food in front of her. That’s how I knew there was a problem with her sight.”

Sharmin quickly became terrified for her daughter. “Since I noticed that Aklima can’t see anything, I have to be with her all the time. There are lots of slippery areas around our house – there are also ponds where Aklima could fall in and drown. Wherever I go, I take Aklima with me.”

Aklima's mother holds her in her arms.

The importance of diagnosis

Desperate to help their daughter, Aklima’s father Saidul took her to a local eye clinic, where she was diagnosed with cataracts and referred for surgery – paid for partly by Sightsavers.

It’s important that young children who are diagnosed with cataracts, such as Aklima, are operated on as soon as possible. At their age the eyes are still developing, and cataracts that block their vision can halt this process. If the cataracts are not treated in time, their sight may never return.

Luckily for Aklima, her diagnosis came just in time. “The doctor gave us hope that if the surgery is done soon Aklima can be cured completely,” Aklima’s father told us. “We are ready for her to have her surgery. We are hopeful Aklima will be cured.”

Aklima rests her head on her mothers lap in the hospital ward.

On the day of surgery

Aklima is the youngest child having an operation that day, so she goes first. It’s a nervous 45 minutes for her mother, but Aklima is soon out of the theatre and they’re back together.

The next day Aklima is as chatty and curious as ever. The doctors carefully remove her bandage, clean her eye and cover it with a green cup, which is taped to her face to stop her scratching or touching her eye.

Before Aklima is discharged, she sits happily playing with her mother’s scarf, distracted by the colours she was unable to see just a few days before. “I think that Aklima will be safer now,” her mother says. “If her other eye is treated, she will be completely cured and then I will be completely relieved.”

Aklima's mother holds he in her arms after her cataract surgery. She has a green plastic cup taped to her face, protecting her eye.

Thanks to the generous donations of our supporters, Aklima can now play, explore and learn along with the other children in her village. She has her childhood back.

Aklima's mother holds he in her arms after her cataract surgery. She has a green plastic cup taped to her face, protecting her eye.

You can help more children like Aklima today

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