We returned from Kenya just over 8 weeks ago, at the end of February. At that point the Coronavirus pandemic was only just starting, and we were able to travel with no restrictions - enabling us to run our two weeks of intensive clinics as normal and return to the UK without any problems.
On this trip we had 14 UK team members, including 5 optometrists - we normally only have 3 or 4! Every morning we continued to see large queues waiting for us which often seemed quite daunting – however, good temperament and hard work enabled us to see all who arrived. In total, we were able to give 1,168 eye health checks and 868 pairs of prescription glasses, made in our on-site glazing laboratory and put together by hand, along with 405 pairs of ready-made reading glasses.
As with all our trips, it is the individuals we see and help that encourages us the most. Seeing a child able to open their eyes and no longer be in pain, or an adult able to read a book giving them hope for the future is always a privilege. We are also always delighted to see returning clients, such as Neema, who we first saw in our October 2018 clinic, when she was just 4 years old.
This February, Neema and her family had once again travelled 550km to see us at our clinic. Neema’s sight is so poor that she struggles with everyday tasks, but, since we last saw her, she has taken great steps in her independence – she is now able to get dressed and go to the bathroom by herself! She can also now recognise different colours and write her name in large letters.
In the hope that more of Neema’s sight could be recovered, we promised to investigate possible surgical options for her, even if that would mean bringing her over to the UK for specialist treatment. We have sought advice from many specialists, all of whom have given us similar opinions. Although it would be possible for her to have surgery, the risks would be great, and there would be no guarantee of improved sight even if the operation was successful. We have explored every option to restore her sight further and were able to have a detailed discussion with her parents. We all agreed that the best way forward for Neema is to maximise the vision she has with glasses and other aids. The good news is that we were immediately able to give her an even stronger pair of glasses which have already given her some more sight.
Neema’s eyesight is so poor and difficult to restore that when we first met her, she and her parents had little hope, so we are all very encouraged by her progress and that her quality of life continues to improve. Her parents are so grateful that we have investigated all possibilities and helped her see even a little better and repeated again that we are the only people that have given them hope!
All our sight saving work is only possible through supporters such as you. Would you consider supporting us with a monthly gift to help more young people like Neema? Regular giving helps us plan and steward our resources better, so that they go further and have more impact. If you would like to give regularly or make a one-off donation please press here.