But until recently she wasn’t able to join in the fun. She had contracted trachoma, causing her vision to be impaired, following a nasty measles infection when she was only one and a half years old.
Her parents travelled to Lumezi Mission Hospital to get her treatment for the measles where, once discharged, she was advised to keep her swollen eyes closed for the next two weeks. It wasn’t until then, when the swelling had subsided, that Zonobia’s parents noticed she was struggling with her sight.
It hurt for Zonobia to look at the light and gradually, through repeated trachoma infections, she developed trichiasis – where the eye lashes turn inwards and irritate the eye’s surface.
Zonobia’s parents didn’t know the painful and blinding effects trichiasis can have, and were unaware that treatment was available. So, frightened that she might injure herself, they stopped Zonobia from going outside to play with her friends, meaning all her time was spent indoors alone.
It wasn’t until Zonobia was five years old that her father, Lenard learnt that help was available. Finally the family travelled to Lundazi District Hospital where little Zonobia was diagnosed and received her first sight-saving operation.
He said: “I heard about [Sightsavers’] programme for the correction of eyes that were infected, and I thought I should try to take my daughter as she has been having problems with both her eyes since she was a baby.”
We were lucky enough to visit Zonobia at her home following her operation, and were delighted to find her playing in the local fields with friends. Finally she was able to join in and play, like all five-year-olds should.
During the visit, one of the health workers asked to take Zonobia to have the final stage of her operation. Her parents, without hesitation, accepted and she was taken to Mwami Hospital for her last corrective surgery, which was also successful.
Her father Lenard was grateful for Sightsavers’ help. “I really thank all the health staff for helping us with surgery for our daughter,” he said.
It’s thanks to donations from people like you that Zonobia’s sight has been restored and she will now be able to go to school with her friends and get an education. Thanks to you she has a bright future ahead of her.