SeeKenya have impacted the lives of thousands of people.
Here are a few of the stories of how their work has impacted and changed lives.
We see a wide variety of attendees at the clinics – from those living in severe poverty to the community leaders and government officials. We strive to serve each and every one with dignity, respect and compassion regardless of their background or circumstances.
Our story here follows the journey of Esther, who used to be a top magistrate fighting for justice. Yet she had to give it up when her eyesight deteriorated due to an inherited genetic condition. Whilst there was little we could do in restoring her sight, we gifted her a magnifier that enlarges print to 10x its normal size. As a result, Esther is just about able to read a newspaper – a huge step forwards. In addition, we gave her a large magnification system that allows her to scan a page and project it in very large print onto a screen.
These methods are not complicated; they are, in fact, very simple. But the evidence of their effects was clearly shown on Esther’s radiant face! She was so delighted that this would re-establish at least some of her sight and her quality of life would be all the better as a result.
We met Paul in September 2019 and diagnosed him as having glaucoma. The pressure of the fluid inside his eyes was too high, causing damage to his optic nerve. If left untreated, glaucoma causes loss of peripheral vision, leading to tunnel vision and blindness, so this could have taken Paul’s sight and the life he leads away from him.
One of the dangers of this eye disease is that many people are unaware that they have it until it is too late, as most forms of glaucoma do not cause symptoms until the damage is very advanced. Glaucoma cannot be reversed but the good news is if it is found early, the eye pressure can be lowered, which in most cases will prevent that person from losing their sight.
This is why SeeKenya is fighting to give people in Kenya access to quality eye care, because we can stop this from happening. Most people in Kenya do not have regular eye tests and, tragically, we often see patients with very advanced glaucoma and severe sight loss. As you can imagine, seeing people living with this and knowing that early diagnosis could have prevented it is very hard for us.
In Paul’s case, as with many people, he was unaware that he had a problem. The tests we do at the SeeKenya clinic showed that his eye pressure was too high, especially in his right eye. The examination of the back of his eyes showed that this had started to cause damage to the nerve fibres, again more so in his right eye.
Thankfully, we caught this at an early stage and he still has excellent sight. We were able to start him on medication straight away, and also referred him to a hospital to receive ongoing treatment. When we saw him again in February 2020 his eye pressure in both eyes was much lower and within the normal range. We can be confident that as long as Paul continues with his medication and attends regular check ups, his sight will be saved and he will be able to continue to live a normal life.
It is for people like Paul that a permanent eye care clinic is so desperately needed. The SeeKenya clinic was running at a time when Paul’s eye health had only deteriorated so far. Had he not been able to come when it was running, his condition may have passed the point where we could have helped him keep his sight. The permanent SeeKenya clinic will give people all-year-round access to the quality eye care they need, preventing sight loss and restoring sight to those we can. The Covid-19 pandemic has made this even more crucial as so many people have missed out on having their eyes checked and receiving medical care.
If you would like to give regularly or make a one-off donation towards our permanent eye care clinic and save sight, please click here.
Titas came to our eye care clinics back in September 2017. His story of restoration and hope is just one of many that we have had the privilege to be part of through the work of SeeKenya.
Titas worked at the local supermarket, and whilst it earned him a steady income, his job as one of the bag packers was made all the more difficult with the increasing loss of his sight. In fact, it was so poor that his colleagues nicknamed him the “blind man”, and customers used to dodge him at the end of the tills given the extra time he took over his tasks. Not only did this have consequences for his role at work, but it also negatively affected his self-worth and confidence being the focus of his colleagues’ jokes.
The cultural stigma of being blind is very strong in Kenya, and Titas is not alone in being on the receiving end of shame and stigma. Yet after visiting our clinic, he was provided with a pair of glasses that completely changed his life. He was able to do his job more than competently and be on an even par with his colleagues. From then on they even called him by his name! What a testament to the caring work of the SeeKenya team!
When we first met Beatrice at one of our eye clinics, she was clearly in discomfort. One of SeeKenya's optometrists examined her and discovered she had a nasty infected ulcer that covered about half of her cornea. Without medication, the eye would have almost certainly gone blind.
Sadly this is the case for many others. Approximately 80% of cases of blindness in Kenya are preventable or treatable. This makes the work of SeeKenya and the establishment of a permanent eye care clinic all the more imperative for those who need it!
It was our joy to see that with a course of antibiotics, Beatrice returned to the clinic completely healed. In addition to the antibiotics, she was given some reading glasses to help her with her everyday tasks that she absolutely loved!
Grace is an ordinary schoolgirl with a determined streak – she travelled around 80km to visit our SeeKenya clinic. To put that into context, that’s the distance from Brighton to Windsor! Although the thought of making such a journey for an eye test is pretty inconceivable to us here in the UK, this isn’t unusual when we set up our clinics. It goes to show how much people desperately need these services, and how much of a reputation SeeKenya has for thousands across the country.
This is the kind of reputation we love to have!
When our optometrists examined Grace, we discovered she had a nasty eye infection called trachoma. This painful condition, if untreated, leads to irreversible blindness and is currently the leading cause of blindness in Kenya. Fortunately, we were able to give her life-changing medication to completely halt this disease in its tracks. Given that trachoma is extremely contagious, we also gave medication to her family including her Grandad, whom Grace lives with.
Because of our partnership with local NGO Edfri International, our meeting with Grace also provided the opportunity for Grace to be sponsored so she can keep going to school and receive an education. A simple eye appointment has resulted in so many great side-effects for Grace and her Grandad through such holistic care!
Just £5 would treat an entire family with trachoma - the price of a coffee and slice of cake. Would you consider a one off gift or even a monthly gift of £5 to SeeKenya? You can find out how to give here.
In October 2019, we met Joy. Joy is one of the 10,000 blind young children living in Kenya, and her story makes up just one of so many similar cases. At just three years old, she needed an incredibly high prescription such was her extreme short-sightedness caused by congenital cataracts. Indeed, she would be functionally blind without glasses, so they are an absolute essential to advance her quality of life. We were able to give her an especially strong pair of glasses that greatly improved her vision.
She visited us again in February 2020 and her dad told us she had been wearing her glasses all the time and wouldn’t take them off, such was the improvement to her sight! However, the cataracts meant that her vision was still very cloudy which can affect her visual development. As a result of this, we referred her to have her cataracts removed. It is vital that this treatment is done at a young age so that she doesn’t suffer long term problems. We are confident that once this treatment has been done she won’t need such strong glasses and her eyes should develop normally!
Evans and Violet
We first met eight year old Evans, and his sister Violet, at our clinics in 2018. At Evans initial examination, we diagnosed that he had childhood glaucoma caused by exceptionally high pressure in his eyes. This is a very rare condition in children, and it was found that Evans was already quite advanced in this blinding disease. His sister Violet also had very high eye pressure and was at risk of vision loss.
Due to this, we referred Evans for treatment. He was given drops to use but this did not lower the pressure significantly enough and he needed surgical intervention. When we next saw him his eye pressure had reduced to normal and the disease had been halted in its tracks! His sister was then referred for the same surgery. We saw them both again at our February 2020 clinics and Violet's surgery was also a success! Her eye pressure had also returned to normal and they are both now glaucoma 'free'!
It is for children like Evans and Violet that a permanent eye care clinic is so desperately needed. The SeeKenya clinic was running at a time when their eye health had only deteriorated so far. Had they not been able to come when it was running and had to wait another 6 months or more, both children's condition may have passed the point where we could have helped keep their sight. The permanent SeeKenya clinic will give people all-year-round access to the quality eye care they need, preventing sight loss and restoring sight to those we can.
If you would like to give regularly or make a one-off donation today and save sight, please click here.
Linet has had a hard start to life with the death of her Mum and absence of her Dad. It was actually her schoolteacher who brought her to one of the SeeKenya clinics after noticing her difficulties in class. After running through the routine eye checks, we discovered the depth of her short-sightedness.
Linet could only read a book just 7cm away from her face, anything else was a complete blur. She may have lived like this her whole life, and without the help of SeeKenya, would have continued this same way. This had had a significant impact on her education and severely hampered her learning and progress.
The SeeKenya team were quickly able to make up a very strong pair of glasses in the behind-the-scenes glazing lab which she received that same day. These glasses have completely changed Linet's life for the better, as has her ability to read and follow the blackboard teaching during class. Her hope of achieving an education has been restored due to the work of SeeKenya!
Marion and Sharon are 6-year-old twins who have been brought up by their single mum and grandmother, after their dad left them. Sharon’s eyes are very healthy but Marion has one of the worst cases of vernal conjunctivitis (VKC) we have ever seen, which has caused extensive damage to her surface of her eyes. VKC is a severe form of allergy that is very common in this part of Kenya because of the dry, dusty (and often smoke-filled) environment. If identified in time, it can usually be easily controlled with inexpensive eye drops but if left untreated it can, tragically, lead to blindness.
When we first met Marion at the clinic in September 2019, she could barely open her eyes and was clearly very uncomfortable. We started her on a course of eye drops and she came back to the clinic a week later for a check-up. Even in that short space of time she was significantly better, smiling and able to open her eyes again!
However, despite this wonderful improvement, due to the advanced condition of the allergy, her eyes were still in a very bad way. We were hopeful though, that after using the medication we had given her for a longer period of time, that she would experience greater improvement and be able to see better once again.
The twins visited us at the clinic again in February 2020. Their mother told us that Marion had been much more comfortable for the past few months, but she was still unable to see. Sadly, the damage done to Marion’s eyes in the past is so great that the drops alone are not sufficient to treat her and we have referred her to a specialist hospital to see whether she could be helped with surgery. We hope to see them at our next clinic and that she will be helped by the specialist.
Marion’s tragic condition could have been avoided if she had received the treatment that she needed when she first started getting symptoms. Her sister Sharon loves art and drawing but sadly Marion’s sight is so poor she cannot enjoy these activities with her. Because of the lack of quality and available eye care in this part of Kenya, many cases of VKC are not treated or go completely undiagnosed – causing unnecessary pain and sight loss and seen all too often in children. Will you help stop people like Marion lose their sight unnecessarily?
Just £12 can help provide a child like Marion with a year's supply of medicated eye drops to treat VKC and prevent severe cases like this one. You donation is so much more than money, it is the gift of better sight – and the opportunities for a better life that go with it. If you would like to give regularly or make a one-off donation please click here.
Neema was just 4 years old when she attended the SeeKenya clinic in October 2018. Her parents had driven over 500km from the Ethiopian border in a desperate attempt to help their daughter. Neema has a condition called sclerocornea, which means that when her eyes formed as a baby they remained opaque rather than having a clear window to allow light inside. Because of this, she is unable to focus clearly on anything and is functionally blind.
The family had visited 17 different hospitals or opticians both in Kenya and in Ethiopia as they sought to find a solution to their little girl’s condition. Each time they were told that she was blind and nothing could be done. Then they heard about the clinics run by SeeKenya in Meru and knew that, as any parent would, they had to pursue the possibility that this time it could be different.
Peter Marson, founder of SeeKenya, examined Neema and he was quickly able to establish that she was extremely short sighted and that her vision could possibly be helped with a strong pair of glasses. A frame was chosen and within an hour the glasses were made. This was not a perfect solution and has not resolved the underlying problem of the opaque corneas but Neema could now see movement across the room and was able to give High Fives to those around. We later heard that on the journey back home she was laughing and giggling and pointing to cartoon characters on a TV screen in the back of the seat in front.
Peter also promised to investigate whether there are any surgical treatment options available in the UK. After a number of the SeeKenya team had gathered around Neema and prayed for her and her family a very tearful father could only say “You are the first people who have given us hope”.
Tony, a graphics design student, came to the SeeKenya clinic in October 2018 in terrible pain and could barely see. Whilst leaving a university class, he was robbed, had acid thrown in his face and was left for dead. He was found and taken to hospital where doctors saved his life – but tragically, not his sight. Nor, through lack of specialist expertise, could they relieve his intense pain.
Thankfully, SeeKenya’s optometrists could help and a small (but just about usable) amount of his sight returned – miraculously enabling him to keep creating graphics. When Tony visited the clinic again in February 2020, scarring had sadly caused his vision to deteriorate further and he was unable to keep creating graphics. The SeeKenya team, however, refused to give up on Tony. They were hopeful that he may be able to have a corneal graft, to replace the scarred tissue with a healthy donated cornea. To do this, he would first need a stem cell transplant.
Whilst the team were still out in Kenya, they arranged for Tony to go back to the hospital with his sister. They were overjoyed to find out that she was a suitable match to be a stem cell donor for him! Tony was informed that if this first stage of the treatment is successful, he could then have a corneal graft. With this, there is a good chance he will regain his sight in one eye!
Twelve year old Deborah came with her mother to see the SeeKenya team back in October 2012. She arrived at the clinic clearly suffering from the eye disease trachoma. Having been assessed by the team at the clinic, she was given some drops and oral antibiotics to treat the trachoma.
One year later Deborah made a return visit to the clinic in Meru to thank the team for their help. Her eyes have been healed of the trachoma and she is now able to go to school and her future is full of hope. During this return visit Deborah also received a pair of sun glasses to protect her against any future eye infections.
Deborah’s story sums up why SeeKenya exists to provide vital medicines to those without access to basic eye care. For the cost of under £1 Deborah was given eye drops to help clear the trachoma and restore her sight.
Mary visited Pete’s clinic in Gachie in 2011. She had very poor vision and dropped out of university as she was no longer able to read her books to help her study. She was given some minus 12 very high strength glasses to help her to read again.
A year later when the team came back, her mum came and told Pete that her daughter was back at university, was doing really well and was able to complete her training. Mary now has the chance to earn a living that would previously have been impossible.
Anna is a single mother with teenage children and a two year old. She supports her family by hairdressing which she does from her home. Her eyesight has been deteriorating and she was finding it increasingly difficult to do her work and provide for her family.
She was given a simple pair of reading glasses by the SeeKenya team which then enabled her to continue with her work and support her family as a single parent.
Just £20 can buy 5 pairs of glasses for people like Anna. For many, this isn't just a pair of glasses. It is the possibility of a future, the ability to work and provide for their family. Will you give £20 to help 5 people see? To make a donation, please click here.