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.
Jan 22, 2013

Improving environment-fighting avoidable blindness

Old latrine no longer in use
Old latrine no longer in use

The importance of building and repairing latrines in schools

On a recent visit to Bonke Woreda in the Gamo Gofa region of southern Ethiopia, we witnessed first-hand the importance of improving the environment in the fight against avoidable blindness.

Bonke is a very remote part of southern Ethiopia which is not easily accessible, particularly during the rainy season. With a population of 167,000 people it is difficult to establish and maintain proper sanitation facilities. As a result, bacteria can spread quickly and trachoma infections are very common. Until recently, open field defecation around the periphery of the villages was a common phenomenon in the area. This caused a huge problem for local schools that typically have around 300 pupils or more.

While in Bonke we visited a school nestled in the hills and surrounded by a number of small villages. We were shown an old latrine made out of reeds which had fallen down and decayed. This latrine was no longer being used by the children as it provided absolutely no privacy.

ORBIS recently built a latrine in the grounds of the school and this one was being used. However, the girls were objecting to using the same latrine as the boys so ORBIS was in the process of funding a second latrine in the school which was being built by a group of local men. The fact that demand exists for a second latrine within the school grounds reflects the changing attitudes amongst the children towards sanitation. This shows very positive progress in the fight against avoidable blindness.

As a result of ORBIS trained teachers and the construction of latrines in schools like the one we visited in Bonke, the practice of open field defecation is greatly reduced.

The changes in the attitudes and practices of the children are resulting in more and more people in the community realising the importance of good personal hygiene and sanitation. With your help ORBIS can fund the building of more latrines in schools and fight the spread of diseases like trachoma.

 

21st January 2013

New ORBIS funded latrine being built at the school
New ORBIS funded latrine being built at the school

Links:

Jan 7, 2013

Simple Sight-saving Surgery - Amarech Monje

Amarech after surgery
Amarech after surgery

Sight Saving Surgery - Amarech Monje

During a recent visit to Bonke Woreda in the Gamu Gofa region of southern Ethiopia, I met Amarech Monje. Amarech is 45 years old and lives in Zaga, a remote village in the mountains. She works as a farmer and shares her very modest home with her six children; three boys and three girls, her husband and her sister.

Amarech has been suffering with trachoma tears and discomfort for around three years. Trachoma is highly contagious and with nine people living in a very small space, the chances of the infection spreading amongst the family are very high. Her eldest child, who is aged around 10, has trachoma and Amarech has been using the ointment that the health centre had given him to treat herself. However, this only caused the pain to go away temporarily.

The day of our visit to the health centre in Geresse was Amarech’s first time there. Geresse is 5km away from the village of Zaga where Amarech lives. Amarech had made the journey to Geresse on her own and on foot. She came as she was aware that she could get the treatment she needed. Her husband and sister had had successful surgery at Geresse Health Centre.  Amarech was diagnosed with trichiasis, the advanced form of trachoma where the eyelids turn inwards and scratch the cornea, causing scarring, immense pain and eventual blindness if left untreated. After consultation with the local health workers, Amarech had surgery on her left eye. The surgery was performed by Sando Shangne, an ORBIS trained local health nurse, who is trained to perform this one simple sight-saving surgery. After twenty minutes the surgery was complete, Amarech was given some antibiotic cream, instructed to return to the health clinic in two weeks and she then embarked on the 5km walk home alone.

Trachoma is a major cause of blindness in the world, found primarily in rural settings, like Zaga. Due to cramped and basic living conditions, mothers and their children are most susceptible to the infection. If Amarech had not received treatment for her trichiasis, it is highly likely that she would have become blind. This would have had disastrous consequences for her family as she would no longer have been able to work on the farm; causing a number of her children, most likely the girls, to drop out of school to work on the farm, look after their mother and look after the household. This would have only served to reinforce the cycle of poverty in which they live.

ORBIS is committed to eliminating trachoma in this very poor region. This is done by providing corrective surgery, distributing zithromax (an antibiotic kindly donated by Pfizer), providing education on the importance of personal hygiene and improving sanitation by providing clean water and building latrines. With your support we can continue to work towards completely transforming this region and ensuring people like Amarech and her family are given every opportunity to emerge from the cycle of poverty in which they have lived for too long.

January 2013

Links:

Nov 21, 2012

Building Water Stations in Bonke Wordea

A new water station in Bonke Woreda
A new water station in Bonke Woreda

Building Water Stations in Bonke Woreda

One of the best ways to prevent the transmission of trachoma is by encouraging face and hand washing but this is not easy in Ethiopia where clean water is scarce. Good personal hygiene will help to slow the spread of bacteria which causes infection and ultimately prevent people from contracting trachoma. ORBIS representatives train teachers, community leaders and women’s groups about facial cleanliness, personal hygiene, environmental sanitation and how to wash hands effectively to prevent the spread of bacteria.

It is important that water is readily available before this training can be completely effective. One of the biggest challenges in water development and provision, along with the initial high cost) is the maintenance and follow –up of its function.

In Bonke woreda in southern Ethiopia, a large percentage of the water-pumps were non functional. ORBIS implemented a strategy to repair the non-functional water schemes this year. Up to the end of October 2012, four water scheme developments, two gravity and two on spot capping and pipeline networking of four water sources in Bonke woreda were undertaken in collaboration with WaterAid and Mekane Yesus Church.

It is estimated that these developments will give about 1,200 households or 6,000 individual’s access to clean water. In addition, one school communal latrine was constructed in collaboration with the aforementioned partners, also in Bonke woreda, benefitting an estimated 1,800 students.    

Two communal latrines were also constructed at community selected sites in Konso. ORBIS supported the cost of construction materials and skilled labourers. The community also contributed by providing water, sand and labour. This collaborative effort, as shown in previous years, has brought strong community ownership, both of the water stations and the latrines. 

 21 November 2012

Links:

donate now:

An anonymous donor is matching all new monthly recurring donations. 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?
  • $10
    give
  • $20
    give
  • $579
    give
  • $5,790
    give
  • $10
    each month
    give
  • $20
    each month
    give
  • $579
    each month
    give
  • $5,790
    each month
    give
  • $
    give
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?