Sightsavers from the field

February update: highlights from around the world

February 2021
Jeniffer Atieno Opito tends to her crops.


Inclusive programme helps farmers launch lucrative business

Jeniffer Atieno Opito, from Asego village in Homa Bay, is a farmer who took part in a formal employment pilot project organised by Sightsavers and partners as part of the Inclusive Futures initiative, funded by UK aid.

Jeniffer is one of 39 farmers with disabilities in Homa Bay who formed a registered group and started growing sorghum, a key ingredient in beer. They sell their produce to East African Breweries Ltd, which has been working to make its supply chain inclusive of people with disabilities. The project is being expanded in 2021.

Jeniffer says: “Before I started planting sorghum I was a maize farmer for more than 10 years, but I was not getting enough money to eat. I thought maybe this training would help me move from poverty. We were taught how to plant, so we took the seed home and did as we had been instructed.”

Christopher Abuor Okwachu, the group’s secretary, says: “In Homa Bay county most people with disabilities were not given attention, so we thought of forming this group so we could fight for our interests. We have learned through practice by the mistakes we do, then we come up with some knowledge.”

Meet Jeniffer, Christopher and some of the other farmers in the gallery below. More from Kenya


A TV still from News 24 TV in Bangladesh, showing a discussion about Bangla Sign Language Day.

Sightsavers appears on TV for Bangla Sign Language Day

Sightsavers’ Bangladesh country office organised a TV discussion to mark Bangla Sign Language Day on 7 February.

The TV segment aired on News 24, one of the country’s leading news stations. Sightsavers’ Inclusion Works officer Utpal Mallick featured on the programme alongside renowned experts and a government official to raise awareness about sign language and disabilities.

Bangla Sign Language Day is marked each year with a variety of cultural programmes and discussions across the country. It has been observed annually since 2013. More from Bangladesh


Research reveals how Lady Health Workers can improve eye care

An important research paper has been published into the work of Pakistan’s Lady Health Workers, who help to provide health care in the community.

The research, led by Sightsavers’ senior regional research adviser Stevens Bechange, investigates the role of Lady Health Workers in improving access to eye health services. It found that the women can play a key part in eye health if they are supported by the rest of the health system through clear referral pathways and good communication. Read the research here.

This study was part of the Seeing is Believing programme, supported by an award from Standard Chartered. More from Bangladesh

A woman wearing a black hijab smiles and walks along a brick-lined street.
Lady Health Workers provide health information and direct people to local treatment. © Sightsavers/Jamshyad Masood


Eye screening at refugee camp helps to save sight

Sightsavers has been helping to carry out eye screenings at the Maratane refugee camp, about 30km from the capital, Nampula, enabling camp residents to get help for eye issues.

One of those treated was 24-year-old Viki Wilonge Hussene, a mother of six who fled the war in the Congo with her husband. She has been living in the refugee camp since 2004.

“The Maratane camp has a hospital, but there are no medicines available,” she explains. “But in December 2020, we were invited to a health fair at the camp organised by Sightsavers. I went to give blood and have an eye examination, where they diagnosed me with pterygium in my right eye.”

Pterygium is a condition where tissue grows on the cornea, which can grow so large that it affects the person’s vision.

“I needed urgent surgery,” she says. “I was operated on and my eyes were sore, but the doctor said within a month I will be completely recovered. I know two people in my village who have eye problems, so as soon as I get better, I will tell them about the eye health services. I can’t wait to get well and go back to work.”

The work is supported by Jersey Overseas Aid. More from Mozambique


Ensuring cataract surgery is safe during the pandemic

Eye camps in Malawi have adopted new measures to ensure they can continue to carry out cataract surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sightsavers’ Malawi country office, in collaboration with Lions Sight First Eye Hospital, trained all health workers about COVID-19 guidelines, including wearing masks, and have drawn up guidelines to show the best ways to carry out eye surgery while keeping everyone safe. The eye camps are funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. More from Malawi

Two surgeons in scrubs and masks carrying out cataract surgery in Malawi.
One of the eye camps took place in Thyolo district, with all staff required to wear masks. © Sightsavers/Naomie Msungeni

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