Can you imagine being in so much pain that you’re scared to open your eyes? Every blink feels like sandpaper scratching away against your eyes, slowly scraping away your sight. Can you imagine this is all you’ve ever known? A lifetime of pain and suffering.
Without treatment, this could have been the reality for two-year-old Nalukena, whom we met in a remote community in rural Zambia. Nalukena had been infected with trachoma since she was born, and it was clear she was in a lot of distress. Her parents knew she was in pain, but they had no idea why.
Trachoma starts off as a bacterial infection that’s a bit like conjunctivitis, and it can be easily treated. But if it’s not, over time it causes scarring to the eyelid that makes the eyelashes turn inward, so with every blink they scrape against the eye. Eventually it can cause total blindness.
In Zambia we travelled with a Sightsavers-supported surgeon, Mr Ndelala. He visits isolated communities, screens villagers for trachoma and provides sight-saving surgery to those in desperate pain. He also distributes the antibiotics that will help eventually wipe this cruel disease off the map.
After Nalukena received her treatment, her father, Likwathi, told us: “If we wipe out trachoma, the nation will benefit, because it will have an educated generation who can go to school and then go to work. I would like my daughter to be doctor.”
This Christmas, you can make history. Will you give a gift today and take us one step closer to eliminating trachoma forever? Together we can eliminate the disease by 2025, and create a world where no child has to go blind in agony from trachoma. With your help, the end is in sight.