Project #8443

Simple Surgery to Restore Sight in Ethiopia

by Orbis Ireland
Mamite After Surgery
Mamite After Surgery

Back in 2011, ORBIS Ireland travelled to Konso, southern Ethiopia and we met with Mamite Kagnew. Mamite had been suffering in excruciating pain as her trachoma infection gradually got worse. With her sight deteriorating rapidly, she was unable to work or contribute to the family's income and began to feel like a burden. Mamite was lucky enough to meet with Gedensho Gemeda, an ORBIS-trained eye care worker. Her condition was diagnosed immediately and Gedensho performed a simple yet highly effective sight-saving surgery on Mamite at the local health centre.

Last November we travelled back to Konso and met with Mamite once more. To our delight, she was fit and healthy and there was no sign of trachoma infection. Moreover, she has become an advocate for sight in her own community. With thanks to some basic information on the importance of hand and face washing given to her by ORBIS staff, Mamite was able to spread the word and play her own part in reducing the rate of transmission in her community.  

Mamite is just one of thousands of people who have suffered with trachoma in the past. With thanks to our supporters, people just like her can have their life back too. ORBIS is continuing in the battle to eliminate trachoma and seeing Mamite greet us with open arms proves that we are making real progress. Thank you for your support!

Mamite Today
Mamite Today


Trachoma is an infectious eye disease which begins as a seemingly harmless eye infection. If left untreated, the disease progresses to become a serious condition which can cause blindness. In Ethiopia, eye care facilities are poor and inadequately equipped to meet the needs of the large population. Through sustainable training and partnership creation, ORBIS is working to change this.

Earlier this year, ORBIS met Amu. Having heard of the treatment available in the local health centre through a friend, Amu came to see if he could be helped. The walk to the centre takes almost three hours and with poor visibility, Amu struggled. His advanced trachoma infection had caused him pain and torment for nearly two years. As the condition worsened, the eyelashes began to turn inwards and eventually scratch the surface of the eye so badly that he was at a real risk of going blind. Thankfully, Amu had come to the health centre just in time.  

After a brief consultation with an ORBIS-trained nurse, Amu was prepared for surgery. Just 20 minutes later and the procedure was complete. This simple surgery will have a life-changing effect for him. When we spoke with Amu afterwards, he said that he was most looking forward to being able to carry out daily tasks by himself and not being seen as a burden by his family. Unfortunately, there are too many others who suffer needlessly just like Amu.

ORBIS has been working in southern Ethiopia for almost ten years now and during that time we have carried out thousands of sight-saving surgeries just like Amu's. The cost of conducting these simple, yet highly effective surgeries is just €6 or $10. If you can afford to help, please show your support and make a donation today. Thank you!


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. 


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


Sight Saving Surgery for Desalech Dosena age 10

Desalech is a 10 year old girl who lives close to Zada in southern Ethiopia. She is a carefree girl who has a bright future ahead of her. She had been suffering from ongoing debilitating pain in her right eye for two years, which had a serious impact on her well-being and everyday life. Desalech’s discomfort continued until she could barely open her eyes and the pain of moving her eyelids was excruciating.

A Community Health Agent who was going house to house in the area brought her to the nearby Health Centre. Desalech was examined by Seifu Wanake,an ORBIS eye care worker, and Desalech was found to have trichiasis in her eye and needed corrective surgery. Trichiasis in under 15 year olds is common in the poorest areas of southern Ethiopia, where families can simply not afford treatment.

Like any 10 year old girl, Desalech was naturally terrified at first at the thought of surgery. She went ahead bravely, and after a successful surgery Desalech is now back to being her happy, lively self. At the Health Centre, Desalech was also given zithromax, a medicine that will prevent a recurrence of this disease. Three rounds of zithromax have been distributed to 97% of the population to date, kindly donated by Pfizer.

Trachoma is a major cause of blindness in the world, found primarily in rural settings, like Zada. Children are most susceptible to the infection, with blinding effects of the disease often not known until adulthood. If Desalech had not received treatment for her triachiasis, it is highly likely that she would have become blind due to scarring of the cornea.

To reduce the episodes of trachoma, ORBIS is trying to eliminate trachoma in this poor region. It does this by providing corrective surgeries which cure the disease and distributing the antibiotic zithromax (kindly donated by Pfizer), educating locals 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 so the next generation can grow up free of the threat of blindness and children like Desalech can enjoy once more, a happy carefree childhood, free from unnecessary pain.


September 2012



About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Orbis Ireland

Location: Sandyford, Dublin - Ireland
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Diane Weatherup
Development Manager
Sandyford, Dublin Ireland

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

Still want to help?

Support another project run by Orbis Ireland that needs your help, such as:

Find a Project

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.