Teshager experienced poor vision for years because of repeated trachoma infections

Teshager’s Future Looked Bleak. Now He’s Starting School!

Six-year-old Teshager never got up in the morning like other children in his town. He didn’t play with other kids or go to school either. The pain in his eyes and not being able to see well was affecting his ability to thrive. For Teshager and his family, the future was full of uncertainties – this is, until he received treatment for his trachoma.

For most of his young life, Teshager’s eyesight was plagued with issues. At two years old, he caught trachoma – a bacterial infection of the eyes – and had several more infections in the years that followed.

Teshager lives with his family in Wolaita, a region of Ethiopia. His family struggles financially, and it was clear that Teshager was facing his own struggles.

On the Verge of Losing His Vision

Both of his eyes were severely infected and irritated, with swelling in his upper and lower eyelids.

Teshager was suffering from trichiasis, a painful condition resulting from repeated trachoma infections that leads to scarring on the underside of the eyelids. This eventually causes the eyelid to turn in on itself and the eyelashes to scratch the eye. Trichiasis can result in permanent vision loss without timely treatment. For Teshager, every blink felt like his eyes were scratching sandpaper.

Just looking at Teshager, it was easy to see he was in excruciating pain. He could barely open and close his eyes. He also couldn’t stand to be around too much light. He struggled to walk or even just to stay still. He always tilted his head to the side without direct sunlight or too much brightness.

His father, Amanuel, a farmer and a fellow sufferer of repeated trachoma infections, did not want his son’s sight to hold him back in life like it did for him.

Amanuel

Teshager's Father

My life cycle seems to repeat itself. Thir­ty or so years ago, I had a sim­i­lar case as my son. I had surgery, but my eyes were not as healthy as they should be. I couldn’t fin­ish school because of my eye­sight prob­lem. I wor­ry a lot because I don’t want my son to turn out as I did. I want him to go to school and suc­ceed in life.”

“We also took him to the hospital in town," said Amanuel. "I have paid a lot of money just to get a referral to another hospital. So, what should we do now?

When Teshager caught trachoma at two years old, his father took him to a hospital where he was given eyes drops. His parents were told he needed to have surgery, but was too young to go through it at that time. They were advised to come back when Teshager was old enough.

Fighting back tears, his mom shared the setbacks they faced trying to get him the eye care he desperately needed: When Teshager turned six years old, his father took him to the same hospital where he was given the eye drops. They finally gave us an appointment for an eye examination.

“We were hopeful. During the appointment, they told us that Teshager’s eyes could only be treated in a different hospital as his condition was beyond their capacity to treat. We have been really devastated to learn that we couldn’t do anything to help our son. We can’t afford to take him to Addis Ababa, where we hear that there is a better treatment.”

Transforming Teshager and His Family’s Life

Teshager pictured with his family in rural Ethiopia

Teshager pictured with his wonderful family.

Every year, Orbis-trained health teams are deployed to remote communities across Ethiopia where trachoma remains prevalent. The condition is easily treatable with the right kind of eye care in place.

Our efforts mean we can reach millions of people with trachoma-fighting antibiotics and refer complicated cases, like Teshager’s, for further treatment or surgery, relieving the burden that this neglected tropical disease has on the individuals impacted, their families, and the wider community.

Thankfully, our teams had already caught wind of Teshager and Amanuel’s long-term suffering and determined the best course of treatment that would save Teshager’s sight and preserve his father' sight as well.

Amanuel’s surgery was successfully carried out on both of his eyes at the Orbis-supported Damote Sore Health Center, while Teshager traveled to a child-friendly eye care center established by Orbis at Menelik II Hospital, in Ethiopia’s capital.

Professor Yilikal, who examined the boy, was stunned how trichiasis had affected Teshager’s eyes at such an early age. While trachoma infections are common in children, it is rare for them to progress to trichiasis, which is more common in adulthood.

Every year, our teams in Ethiopia distribute trachoma-fighting antibiotics in rural communities.

The professor, who was one of the first 20 ophthalmology sub-specialists trained by Orbis in the country, performed surgeries on both of his eyes. Just like his father, Teshager’s surgery was a success!

A month later, we caught up with an ecstatic Teshager, who ran up to greet us with a clean face and eyes – and best of all, no more debilitating pain.

Teshager and father Amanuel after both receiving trachoma treatment in Ethiopia

Teshager and his delighted father, Amanuel, both had their sight restored with the support of our partners.

Amanuel

Teshager's Father

I do not have the words to describe how hap­py I am and how much I appre­ci­ate Orbis for help­ing our son get bet­ter treat­ment for his eyes. We didn’t have enough mon­ey to take our son to the city. Teshager nev­er got up in the morn­ing like oth­er chil­dren. When he got up, he didn’t play with oth­er chil­dren. He didn’t go to school either. He had so much pain in his eyes. After going through his surgery, he is so much bet­ter now. He gets up in the morn­ing like the rest of the fam­i­ly. He sees clearly.”

Thanks to Your Support, Teshager’s Future Looks Bright!

Teshager pictured with his mom post-trachoma surgery in rural Ethiopia

Teshager with his relieved mom following a successful surgery to treat his trichiasis.

With healthy vision and renewed hope, we're delighted to share that Teshager will be finally starting school this coming September!

While Teshager’s story has a happy ending, the trachoma crisis in Ethiopia is real and it is urgent. With your continued kindness and the dedication of our partners, more children, just like Teshager, can get the treatment they need to see clearly and have the chance for a better life.

Donate Now

Together, we can put an end to trachoma in our lifetime!

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