You can help open a child’s eyes

Happy would sometimes close her eyes for 24 hours to bear the agony of trachoma. Will you help free more children from this daily horror?

Our team in Uganda recently met Fosca and her young daughter, Happy. At just six years old, Happy knew nothing other than the constant agony of trachoma.

Fosca had done everything she could to try to end her daughter’s pain: washing Happy’s face and hands clean with soap and water, and using what little income she could to buy antibiotics and ointment to treat the trachoma – tragically without success.

But Happy’s infection was so advanced that it had caused her eyelashes to turn inwards. They scraped against her eyes with every painful blink. Like most six-year-olds, she desperately wanted to play with her friends, but often the pain was so severe that all she could do was lie down, exhausted and crying. She was at risk of losing her sight forever.

To free her from the daily pain, she needed an operation. The closest medical clinic was more than 280km away and the cost was beyond Fosca’s means.

She spends the whole day with her face lowered. Sometimes she stays 24 hours with her eyes closed.
Fosca, Happy’s mother
Fosca holds her daughter, Happy, who has her eyes closed due to the pain of trachoma.

Fosca was devastated. Happy’s symptoms were so severe she couldn’t go to school. Fosca had no choice but to quit her job at a local restaurant to make sure Happy was properly cared for.

Happy would often have to hold her mother’s hand and walk with her eyes squeezed shut to lessen the pain. Fosca had to remind Happy to open her eyes to prevent her from falling over and hurting herself.

Her pain was constantly visible: every blink was torture. Each time she opened her eyes, she would quickly squeeze them shut again – the pain was too intense.

Everything changed when Fosca met a local health worker, who diagnosed Happy with trichiasis and referred her to a Sightsavers-supported medical team. The treatment she would receive could change the course of her life.

Happy was given the operation she urgently needed to correct her turned-in eyelids, with antibiotics to treat the infection. Her sight was saved, and her eyes were open to a brighter future. Fosca’s relief was overwhelming.

Following her surgery, Happy was transformed: gone was the sad, quiet little girl, with slumped shoulders, barely able to open her eyes. Instead, she was beaming and looking everyone in the eye. It was the first time our team had seen Happy and Fosca laugh.

Globally, more than 14 million children are suffering from trachoma, just as Happy had done, while millions more are at risk of infection. But even just one child is too many.

Happy being carried by a surgeon after her trichiasis operation

We have the treatments – but we need your help to ensure children can access them.

Please will you donate to protect more people from the agony of trachoma?

Happy being carried by a surgeon after her trichiasis operation

Help children access treatment for trachoma