ORBIS Ireland

ORBIS's 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 24, 2013

Building Latrines in Konso

Building Latrines in Konso
Building Latrines in Konso

ORBIS has been working in Konso, southern Ethiopia, for over five years now. On a recent visit to the region, we had a fantastic opportunity to witness the building of a new community latrine. 

Located just off the town's market square, this facility will benefit an estimated 1,000 people per week and serve as a key element of our strategy to improve sanitation facilities in order to combat avoidable blindness in the region. Before ORBIS began construction, open defecation was a common practice in this area. Through building community latrines, ORBIS is inhibiting the spread of the bacteria which causes the blinding eye disease trachoma. 

Providing access to basic sanitation is a priority in our work. We have witnessed the local population's continued willingness to learn about the benefits of good hygiene. In turn, public attitudes towards sanitation are improving; this is key to the success of our work in Ethiopia.

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we can continue to build and maintain latrines in Konso and beyond. On behalf of all those who directly benefit from your support - Thank You! Please do get in touch if you would like to know more about our work. 


May 9, 2013

Simple Sight-Saving Surgery: Churo Ayano

Melkamu Roba and Churo Ayano
Melkamu Roba and Churo Ayano

As part of our fundraising trip to The Great Ethiopian Run, Addis Ababa, ORBIS Ireland sheperds a small group of supporters on a project visit. Late last year, we visited Konso, southern Ethiopia and witnessed a simple yet effective surgery being carried out on Churo Ayano. Churo is a 37 year old local man who had travelled some 10km by foot to the Konso Regional Health Centre.

Having suffered from trachoma for nearly 5 years, Churo was visiting the health centre with a friend when his condition was recognised by an ORBIS-trained nurse. Trachoma is an infectious eye disease which continues to bring pain, blindness and poverty to millions across the developing world. Trachoma is prevalent in Ethiopia. If left untreated, the eyelashes turn inwards and scar the surface of the eye. This advanced state of trachoma is known as trichiasis and causes avoidable blindness. Churo was at immediate risk of losing his sight when he was operated on by an ORBIS-trained nurse, Melkamu Roba.

The simple surgery performed on Churo has had a life-changing effect. We spoke with him shortly after his surgery and he told us that once the protective bandages are removed in a weeks time, he is most looking forward to just being like everybody else and getting back to work. Without the support of ORBIS, Churo told us that he would probably have followed the advice of his friends and removed his eyelashes himself.

On the day we visited Konso Helath Centre, there were 6 other patients waiting for surgery. The cost of each surgery is just €6 or $10. Please help us deliver the gift of sight to people like Churo. 


Feb 6, 2013

Providing Access to Clean Water in Dita Woreda

Clean water station in Dita Woreda, Ethiopia
Clean water station in Dita Woreda, Ethiopia

Providing access to clean water in Dita Woreda

ORBIS has been working in Dita Woreda, in southern Ethiopia for five years. Dita has traditionally had a very high prevalence of trachoma with very poor water coverage. Access to clean water is vital in the fight against avoidable blindness.  Diseases like trachoma are highly contagious and are easily spread through contact with a family member or friend. Education around the importance of clean hands and faces significantly minimises the spread of trachoma but without access to clean water the education is futile.

Dita has a population of 91,594 and is situated 60 kilometres from the nearest town of Arba Minch. Dita is separated into 24 kebeles (villages) situated in mountainous terrain with very poor infrastructure.  

Dita is beautifully green and has a lot of rain during the rainy season. It may seem strange that in an area where there is a lot of rain, albeit for only a few months of the year, there is no facility to collect water. But the reality is that there is simply no infrastructure in place to facilitate this.

ORBIS is working with Water Aid and local company Mekane Yesus to change this. While we were in Dita, we visited a new ORBIS funded water station which uses a natural spring as its source. The water is piped from the spring to a simply designed water station where it is accessible at a number of points through taps. The cost of building the water station and laying the pipes was only $500 and this water station now provides clean water to around 100 households or 650 people. Local people were encouraged to assist in the building of the water station. This reduces the cost, gives them ownership and helps change their traditional practices of collecting (often unclean) water from the local stream or river.

Providing access to clean water facilities, not only helps in the fight against trachoma but it also helps prevent the spread of many other diseases. ORBIS’s vision is a world where no one is needlessly blind. Your support of our clean water projects will have a very significant impact on this, giving the people of this region access to something that is a basic human right.


February 2013



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