Orbis Ireland

Orbis' mission is to preserve and restore sight by strengthening the capacity of local partners in their efforts to prevent and treat blindness with the vision that this will lead to a world in which no one is needlessly blind, where quality eye care, education, and treatment are available to every human being.
May 1, 2015

Restoring sight not only effects individuals

Amina before surgery
Amina before surgery

Amina, 52, lives in a one room hut with her two sons and their cattle. Amina suffered repeated infections of trachoma for three years, which eventually led to trichiasis, the blinding form of the disease. Her husband abandoned her when her eye problems began. Throughout Ethiopia, the practice of men having more than one wife is culturally accepted, and if a wife gets sick, they will be abandoned for a new one.  

Three years ago, Amina was healthy and able to conduct her daily activities, but when she started to suffer with repeated trachoma infections, everything became very difficult. Amina’s older son noticed her eye problems; her eyes were swollen and getting worse and worse. At night she could not sleep, due to the pain of her eyelashes scratching her cornea.

One of the reasons why reinfection occurred is the smoke created from cooking inside the hut. Smoke can cause severe damage to the eyes, and most huts do not have chimneys or any kind of ventilation. Sharing the living space with livestock also increases infection rates.

Amina heard about Orbis from a Community Health Agent travelling door-to-door. The Orbis-trained Health Agent immediately recognised that Amina had the blinding form of trachoma and would need surgery immediately before she lost her sight completely.

Amina felt hopeful about regaining her sight, but felt very anxious about the surgery. The surgery was conducted in a local health centre by an Orbis-trained Eye Care Worker. The surgery takes just 20 minutes.

The surgery was a success! Amina can now get back to her normal life and perform all her activities. This also means that her sons are no longer needed on the farm and the younger one, who is only seven, can return to school.

Since the surgery, Amina feels very positive about the benefits of the eye care services established by Orbis. She now understands the pain and poverty that trachoma can bring.

Thank you for supporting this project. Together we will continue to restore sight to those at immediate risk of blindness. 

Amina is successfully operated!
Amina is successfully operated!
May 1, 2015

Convincing Villagers isn`t easy!

Bonsa
Bonsa

Bonsa is 10 years old and blind in one eye. His family took him to a clinic when they first noticed problems, but the ointment Bonsa was given failed to save his sight.

Asrat Gebre, Orbis Project Coordinator in Ethiopia, met Bonsa and his family at an antibiotic distribution outreach programme, supported by Orbis. The antibiotic is used to protect against trachoma - an infectious disease that has blinded millions across Ethiopia.

“Bonsa needs to take antibiotics because he is already blind in one eye” Asrat said. “If his second eye becomes infected and he loses his sight, he will be completely blind. The blindness in his left eye proves he’s highly susceptible to infection.

Although it isn’t known what caused the blindness in Bonsa’s left eye, trachoma is a constant threat to the right. The disease is spread by flies, clothing and close human contact – particularly between mother and child- and festers in dry areas where people have limited access to water. Many Ethiopians consider trachoma an unavoidable fact of life.

Annually, Orbis-trained health workers visit over 1000 villages to distribute antibiotics. The large turn-out pleased the health workers, but convincing villagers of the efficacy of the antibiotic has not been easy.

Health workers first had to familiarise villagers with the antibiotic and convince them of its role in fighting trachoma. Then they had to persuade the villagers to overcome their suspicions about unknown medication, particularly when it came to giving it to their children.

This antibiotic offers a simple cure that has a marked success at controlling trachoma infection rates across Ethiopia!

Now that Bonsa has begun taking antibiotics, he can look forward to a future unmarred by the fear of total blindness. Worrying that his right eye would go blind was always on his mind, he said. Now he can concentrate on more important things, like school, his family and his hopes for the future.

Bonsa
Bonsa
Feb 12, 2015

Communities in Ethiopia trust Orbis

Meselech
Meselech

Meselech is a 20 year old student at the local school in Gereshe, southern Ethiopia.  

Her village has been part of the Orbis Mass Antibiotic Distribution Programme for three years now. At first, people were unsure of the benefit of the drug or if it was safe. However, after Orbis worked with community leaders, Community Health Workers and traditional healers the benefits of the antibiotics were made clear. After the second and third doses the community themselves could feel the benefit.

The distribution of antibiotics is just one of the four components of the World health Organisation's SAFE strategy which is recommended to eliminate the blinding eye disease, trachoma. 

Meselech is positive towards the antibiotic (zithromax) and about the fact that her village has the opportunity to take it. She and all her family have taken all three doses.

The first round had a 81% uptake, second 86% and the third 96%.

In line with distributing the antibiotic, Orbis is also conducting corrective surgery to reverse the effects of blinding trachoma; raising awareness of the importance of facial cleanliness to prevent the bacteria which causes the infection; and improving the surrounding environment through access to clean water and sanitation.  

Meselech says: “We know that the drug is not everything. Whether we take it or not we have to wash our face and hands and use latrines. We are also more aware of the health centre services available and we demand a good level of service from the centre and from our local government.

“Before Orbis we didn’t know anything about what was hurting our eyes. Now through leaflets, billboards, radio and teachers we know a lot of information. And I have now informed my parents and family so we all have made a change.

“I knew at least ten people in my village that had their eye lashes scratching their eye, and now they have had surgery and are trying not to get it again.”

donate now:

An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
  • $12
    give
  • $20
    give
  • $134
    give
  • $415
    give
  • $500
    give
  • $12
    each month
    give
  • $20
    each month
    give
  • $134
    each month
    give
  • $415
    each month
    give
  • $500
    each month
    give
  • $
    give
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?