Ayat's story: sight-saving eye care in the Rohingya refugee camps

At just 11 years old, Ayat’s life had already been filled with more challenges and hardships than many people experience in a lifetime.

His father abandoned his family when he was very little, and to make life even more difficult, his vision started to get blurry when he was just four years old – and continued getting progressively worse.

When Ayat was around six years old, his family were forced to flee their home in Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh due to the ongoing conflict and violence in the Rakhine state where they lived.

“We somehow managed to reach Bangladesh despite my vision problem. But with the passage of time, I became almost blind...” said Ayat.

Ayat’s family found refuge in a Rohingya refugee camp. However, as they had no income and were relying on support from aid organisations to live, they believed they’d have no chance to get him the eye treatment he desperately needed.

The Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

However soon after arriving at the camp, they heard a loudspeaker announcement that would change Ayat’s life forever.

The family could not believe their ears when they heard that free eye treatment is being provided at the refugee camp.

They rushed to the Orbis Vision Centre, where Ayat had his eyes checked. The optometrist at the center found that cataracts had left him blind in the right eye. Soon after the checks, he was taken to the Chittagong Eye Infirmary and Training Complex. There, his life was transformed as he underwent successful cataract surgery!

The Orbis Vision Centre in the Rohingya refugee camp

Ayat is understandably over the moon about his operation, he told us: “Now I can see. The operation has given me a new lease of life!”

His mother is equally pleased that they were also able to have the operation for free: “Orbis took us to the hospital in Chittagong and brought us back here after five days. They bore all the expenses for the operation.” she said.

Ayat and his Mother outside their home

Ayat said that the Orbis team didn’t only return his vision, they also taught him how to combat coronavirus by following health guidelines. “Now my family and I wear masks, wash our hands regularly and maintain social distance to be free from coronavirus,” he said.

That’s an amazing result in our opinion!


You can help us reach more refugees like Ayat with eye care that will save their sight. Will you give a gift today and help us achieve the goal of everybody having access to a trained eye care professional, regardless of where they live?

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