Sightsavers Reports

Free from cataracts, and back at school!

Gladys writing in her exercise book at school.

Imagine the pain of a sharp stick piercing the lens of your eye. Gladys was only 11-years-old when this happened to her: while playing in a field near her village in Zambia, she fell on a stick used to prop up crops.

The accident damaged the lens of her eye and caused a cataract to develop. Gladys’s sight deteriorated and her vision became distorted. It was hard for her to see in the sunlight, which would often leave her crying in pain. Gladys became more and more isolated as her life changed dramatically. She could no longer help her parents with chores or join in games with her friends.

Most young children enjoy going to school and playing with their friends and Gladys was no different. She was in a large class of 40 children. Her vision problems made it difficult to see the board and she needed to sit at the front of the classroom. Before long, she couldn’t read the teacher’s writing from even this short distance, so Gladys was unable to attend school regularly and her grades suffered as a result.

When Gladys’s family sought help, they received devastating news. During a visit to a local hospital they were advised her eye injury was too severe to operate on. While this turned out not to be true, Gladys’s mother was so worried for her daughter and feared she would go blind.

After three years of pain and worry, a team of community health workers and an ophthalmologist visited the family’s village. Gladys’s mum plucked up the courage to approach them about her daughter. The team examined Gladys’s eye and discovered her cataract was operable after all, and so she was immediately referred for surgery.

When a loved one has an operation, it is a tense time. Gladys’s family were nervous about the surgery, and worried that she could lose her sight completely.

Gladys reading out loud to her classmates at school

“ Life changed because she stopped complaining about the pain in her eye”

Thankfully, after having Sightsavers supported surgery, Gladys’s sight improved and she was no longer in agonising pain. She has now gone back to school and attends regularly which has made a huge difference in her life. Her mother says, “Gladys can sit behind other children now and is able to see the board. Now she is doing well at school.”

Thanks to your support, Gladys got the sight-saving surgery she needed. She is one of the lucky ones: Gladys can once again go to school, participate in lessons, and play with her friends at break times.

Gladys’s mother now has big dreams for her daughter, saying, “We hope she will be a nurse so that she can help people”.

Please give the gift of sight. Your donation could help more children like Gladys to go back to school.


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