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Sightsavers from the field

Meeting the miracle workers

February 2018
Staff from Makeni Hospital's eyecare team smile for the camera.

In October 2017, Sightsavers staff members Ciara Smullen, Kate McCoy and Megan McElwee from our fundraising team visited the new eye care unit at Makeni Regional Hospital in Sierra Leone.

During their trip, they met members of the small but mighty eye care team your donations are helping to support, and were able to see the team in action. Here, they share their story.

An undercover, open-air walkway at Makeni Hospital.
Inside Makeni Hospital.

A new era of eye health

Makeni Regional Hospital only began providing cataract surgeries in September 2017. Before then, eye health services were limited, leaving serious conditions untreated. We saw the passion and energy of the eye care team as soon as we arrived. Abubakar, the optometrist technician, greeted us with a big smile and quickly introduced us to the rest of the team. A typically busy day was just beginning and they were eager to get started.

The eye health unit is limited to two small screening rooms and a ward for overnight patients. Lots of people were already squeezed up on long benches in the corridors, waiting their turn. There was a constant stream of movement as they were called in and out to receive eye tests, glasses and treatment. It made us appreciate the huge scale of eye-related issues in Makeni, and how much people need these services.

Haja and Kadiatu.
Cataract patient Haja (right) sits with her mother Kadiatu.

Taking care to people's homes

As well as working flat out at the hospital, the eye care team also runs outreach clinics in local communities, and sometimes screens people in their homes. We accompanied Abubakar on one of his home visits, and met 27-year-old Haja.

Haja has two daughters and a baby on the way. She explained that she’s lost most of the sight in one eye because of a cataract, and has had to give up her job in the market. We watched as Abubakar carefully examined Haja’s eyes, and we could see her relief when he said she could have surgery that very same week.

Haja at home.
Haja peels fruit to sell. Photos ©Sightsavers/Michael Duff

A humbling experience

We caught up with Haja a couple of days after her surgery, and could hardly believe the difference in her. With her sight restored, she was much more confident and talked proudly about being able to provide for her family again.

It was really moving to see how much the surgery meant to Haja, and we were incredibly inspired by the eye care team’s commitment and care. They truly are miracle workers. So are you – because you’ve helped to make all this possible. Thank you.

Haja and her mother Kadiatu laugh with each other.

Thanks to donations from our supporters, Haja can now provide for her family again.

Haja and her mother Kadiatu laugh with each other.

With your support, we can help people like Haja

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