Orbis UK, is part of Orbis International, a global charity that combats avoidable blindness.
Corinna Philpott is a senior officer with Orbis UK, and she sent us this report on the Charity’s work.
Vision for Zambia aims to strengthen child eye health services in the Copperbelt region of the country.
Whilst collecting statistics from them, Corinna found this heart-warming story.
“I wanted to share this story with you because it demonstrates the incredible difference Orbis supporters make.”
Shekainah, Meredith & Stephanie are triplets from Zambia. They were all born with a squint, also known as Strabismus.
Fearing they may be mocked and struggle at school as a result, their mum Bridget had been keeping the girls at home. She worried about the impact it would have on them; being isolated and facing a future with fewer opportunities.
When one of the girls contracted malaria at the age of 7, she was taken to the District Hospital for treatment.
Bridget then asked the doctor about her squint and all three girls were referred to the main eye care centre at Kitwe.
An Orbis Volunteer Surgeon operated on the triplets.
Those girls are now back at school and happily socialising with friends.
They continue to receive support from Orbis to ensure their vision remains healthy and Bridget is so thankful her children’s condition has been corrected.
Bridget didn’t want anyone else to go without treatment for as long as her girls did, simply because they didn’t know that treatment was available. She now encourages everyone in her community to get their eyes checked regularly.
You see, when you support the Orbis charity it could be more far reaching than you think – not only helping individual people to regain their sight but improving the eye health of hundreds of people around them!
Orbis is the result of an alliance forged between the medical and aviation industries.
They created a mobile teaching hospital. With a fully equipped hospital on board an aeroplane, doctors trained in the latest ophthalmic techniques, including paediatric ophthalmology, could bring their surgical knowledge and skills to doctors in low-income countries through hands-on training and lectures.
In 1992, after a major fundraising appeal, they bought a wide-body DC-10 and within two years, had converted the plane into an eye surgery hospital.
As they grew over the years, they added hospital-based training programmes and fellowships to the portfolio and now provide additional skills-building opportunities for eye care professionals. In 1999, to build the capacity of local partners, they created long-term country programmes in Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, India and Vietnam – similar programmes are also underway in parts of the Latin America and the Caribbean. They now have permanent offices in those countries, run by local staff. They develop and implement an array of multi-year projects to improve the quality and accessibility of eye care to residents, particularly in rural areas and impoverished urban communities. Many of these programmes focus on the treatment and prevention of childhood blindness, cataract, trachoma and corneal disease.