Teshager’s Future Was Uncertain. Now He’s Starting School!

Six-year-old Teshager never got up in the morning like other children in his town. He didn’t play with other kids or go to school either. The pain in his eyes and not being able to see well was affecting his ability to thrive. For Teshager and his family, the future was full of uncertainties until he received treatment for his trachoma.

For most of his little life, Teshager’s eyesight was plagued with issues. At two years old, he caught trachoma, a bacterial infection of the eyes, and had several repeat infections.

At the time of meeting, his family based in Wolaita, a region of Ethiopia, was struggling financially, and it was clear that Teshager was facing his own struggles.

On the Verge of Losing His Vision

Both of his eyes were highly infected and irritated, with swelling in his upper and lower eyelids.

Teshager was suffering from trichiasis, a painful condition, caused by the repeat trachoma cases, in which scarring causes the eyelid to turn in on itself and the eyelashes to scratch the eye. For him, every blink felt like his eye was scratching sandpaper.

Trichiasis can result in permanent vision loss without timely treatment.

Just looking at Teshager, it was easy to see that he was in excruciating pain. He couldn’t easily open and close his eyes.

Teshager couldn’t stand to be around too much light. He struggled to walk and stay still. When he sat or tried to walk, he always tilted his head to a side without direct sunlight or too much brightness.

His father, Amanuel, a farmer and a fellow sufferer of repeat trachoma infections, did not want his son’s sight to hold him back in life like it did for him.

He told us: “My life cycle seems to repeat itself. Thirty or so years ago, I had a similar case as my son. I had surgery, but my eyes were not as healthy as they should be. I couldn’t finish school because of my eyesight problem. I worry a lot because I don’t want my son to turn out as I did. I want him to go to school and succeed in life.

“We also took him to the hospital in town. I have paid a lot of money just to get a referral to another hospital. So, what should we do now?

When Teshager caught trachoma at two years old, his father took him to a hospital where he was given eyes drops. His parents were told he needed to have surgery, but was too young to go through it at that time. They were advised to come back when Teshager was old enough.

Fighting back tears, his mom shared the setbacks they faced trying to get him the eye care he desperately needed: When Teshager turned six years old, his father took him to the same hospital where he was given the eye drops. They finally gave us an appointment for an eye examination.

“We were hopeful. During the appointment, they told us that Teshager’s eyes could only be treated in a different hospital as his condition was beyond their capacity to treat. We have been really devastated to learn that we couldn’t do anything to help our son. We can’t afford to take him to Addis Ababa, where we hear that there is a better treatment.”

Transforming Teshager and His Family’s Life

Teshager pictured with his wonderful family.

Every year, Orbis-trained health teams are deployed to remote communities across Ethiopia, where the infectious, sight-stealing disease trachoma remains rife. The condition is highly treatable with the right kind of eye care in place.

Our efforts mean we can reach millions of people with trachoma-fighting antibiotics and refer complicated cases like Teshager’s for further treatment or surgery, relieving the burden that this neglected tropical disease has on the individuals impacted, their families, and the wider community.

Thankfully, our teams had already caught wind of Teshager’s and Amanuel’s long-term suffering and determined the best course of treatment that would save Teshager’s sight and preserve his fathers, too. A double win!

Amanuel’s surgery was successfully carried out on both of his eyes at the Orbis-supported Damote Sore Health Center, while Teshager traveled to a child-friendly eye care center established by Orbis at Menelik II Hospital, in Ethiopia’s capital.

Professor Yilikal, who examined the boy, was stunned how trichiasis had affected Teshager’s eyes at such an early age; while trachoma infections are common in children, it is rare for them to progress to trichiasis, which is more common in adults.

Every year, our teams in Ethiopia distribute trachoma-fighting antibiotics in communities.

The professor, who was one of the first 20 ophthalmology sub-specialists trained by Orbis in the country, performed surgeries on both of his eyes.

Teshager’s surgery went without a hitch, too!

A month later, we caught up with an ecstatic Teshager, who ran up to greet us with a clean face and eyes—and best of all, no more constant pain.

Teshager and his delighted father, Amanuel, both had their sight restored with the support of our teams and partners.

His relieved father said: “I do not have the words to describe how happy I am and how much I appreciate Orbis for helping our son get better treatment for his eyes. We didn’t have enough money to take our son to the city.

“Teshager never got up in the morning like other children. When he got up, he didn’t play with other children. He didn’t go to school either. He had so much pain in his eyes. After going through his surgery, he is so much better now. He gets up in the morning like the rest of the family. He sees clearly.”

Thanks to Your Support Teshager’s Future Looks Brighter!

Teshager with his relieved mom following a successful surgery to treat his trachoma and trichiasis.

With healthy vision and renewed hope, we are delighted to share that Teshager will be finally starting school this coming September!

While Teshager’s story has a happy ending, the trachoma crisis in Ethiopia is real, and it is urgent.

Your continued kindness, coupled with the dedication of our partners, means that kids like Teshager can get the treatment they deserve to see clearly and flourish throughout their childhood.

Thank you for helping us power our fight against preventable blindness and creating happier lives for people at risk from trachoma in Ethiopia.

We could not transform lives without your ongoing support!


Together We Can Put an End to Trachoma in Our Lifetime

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