Four years ago, our team met a young Kenyan boy called Kipar. Kipar was born with bilateral cataract – a disease that can lead to life-long, untreatable blindness unless an operation is performed early.
At the time, Kipar’s home in northwest Kenya was crippled by drought. The only plants that grew were devoid of any green foliage. Sharp barbs shot out from the branches adding to the harshness of this barren land. Kipar wore the scars of this environment. He was covered in dirt because he couldn’t walk 10km to the nearest water and his face and body showed signs of trips and falls.
The saddest thing of all was that like millions of others living in the developing world, all of Kipar’s struggles were preventable as his condition was treatable. All he needed was the help of a surgeon. That’s what your support of The Fred Hollows Foundation does. Together we bring help to those who need it and as a result of your generosity, we were able to give Kipar clear sight for the very first time.
That was all four years ago. We’re so happy to share a report we received from one of our field workers in Kenya, Mark. In his travels, Mark dropped into visit Kipar at his home.
We like to share patient progress with our supporters to demonstrate exactly what difference one sight restoring operation can have on an individual. As you can see, everything is looking so much brighter for this young boy. Enjoy!
Stories from the field: Mark's report
The restoration of sight for seven-year-old Kipar, who is the oldest in his family of four followed by Arupe 6, Yeko 5 and Arekei 3, has given the family hope and determination to endure the harsh economic and social realities of the arid East Pokot within the larger Baringo County. Thanks to support from The Fred Hollows Foundation that helped fully restore Kipar’s eye sight four years ago.
Since the time the boy grasped his father’s finger to prove that he could actually see, his life has never been the same again. His father Riteluk, immediately introduced him to various family responsibilities, among them looking after the family owned camels.
Camel rearing forms an integral part of the family’s main economic activities and wealth is measured by the number and type of livestock somebody owns.
They celebrated, danced and sang songs of joy after knowing that Kipar could see again and independently take care of himself and carry out other responsibilities of a boy his age, with minimal supervision. Being the first born, the father says it is necessary for Kipar to learn and know how to look after the family by protecting them and looking for food whenever necessary. Despite his tender age, in the absence of the parents, Kipar takes care of his siblings and other family property.
The parents explain that since Kipar’s sight was restored, he has become the hope and pillar of the family, his father says although Kipar is young, he is old enough to look after the camels. The parents describe Kipar as a very obedient and patient child, who is at times trusted to undertake other serious errands such as being sent by his mother to purchase basic amenities 20 km away from home. Both parents are very proud of Kipar due to the fact that he is very active and hard working.
Kipar loves playing football with his friends who attends school, unlike him. Though his parents would love to see him join school, it’s hard for them to release him since they rely on him to look after their 24 camels. The family solely depend on the camels for milk which they use at home and the surplus is taken to the market for selling.
Due to the help and intervention the family received from The Fred Hollows Foundation, Kipar’s father has become an eye ambassador in his village and looks forward to meet those who treated Kipar so that he can appreciate and tell them what is in his heart and hopefully share with them a meal of roasted goat. The community have now believed, against other popular myths, that eye sight can be restored through modern interventions.
The father confirms that, indeed, since Kipar was operated on, he has never had any problem with his eyes. Kipar still gets time once a year to have his eyes checked by the local nurse.
“I am really looking forward to meeting The Foundation team that helped restore my child’s sight because I consider them true friends; they took me to Nakuru, a town where I had never been before. My desire is to see Kipar becoming a politician, secretary or a teacher but as for now I need him to look after my camels as they are our source of livelihood,” said 55-year-old Kipar’s father, Riteluk.