Education for girls and women leads to possibility. But, in the remote regions of countries like Kenya, education for blind children is a rarity.
It’s an incredible story: at the young age of three, Faith understood the importance of learning.
She was blind from birth but knew she wanted to go to school – and her Aunt Helen would do anything to open the world for this curious little girl.
Faith used to hide her face in her Aunt Helen’s skirt, trying to stop people seeing her eyes which glowed white from blinding cataract. The other children used to tease her because she couldn’t see. But thanks to surgery made possible by our supporters, that all changed.
See how Faith now laughs and scampers around her village.
The fact is, there are more blind girls in the world than boys. And these girls are less likely to get treatment and help for a multitude of reasons.
Girls and blindness
Sadly, even women and girls who do not have eye problems themselves find their lives disproportionately affected by blindness. That’s because they tend to be the ones who give up work or education to care for blind relatives.
When a cycle like this begins, it can continue across generations. Girls who don’t attend school don’t develop the skills needed for work and are poorer in their adult lives. Their children are then born in to poverty and find it much harder to access education.
We can stem the flow-on effects of avoidable blindness and give hope to girls and women around the world.
A 25 kilometer walk to save her sight
The thought of Faith spending a life without sight - and what that could mean for the rest of her life – was too painful for her Aunt Helen.
Even at 3 years old, Faith’s dream was to go school like her five cousins, and Helen was determined to do anything to make this seemingly impossible dream come true. One day, through an outreach program, she heard about an eye clinic that was 25 kilometers away. Helen carried Faith on her back and walked the entire way, every step buoyed by the hope of saving Faith’s sight.
Dr Ollando needed just one hour
In just one hour, Dr Ollando, a skilled surgeon trained thanks to supporters of The Fred Hollows Foundation performed the necessary surgery. Then followed an agonising overnight wait until the eye patches were removed.
Dr Ollando slowly removed Faith’s patches and shone a light in her eyes. Faith followed the light up and down, left to right, and then turned to touch her aunt’s face. “I see you,” she said excitedly.
The feeling in the room was palpable. Overnight, both Faith and Helen’s life changed completely.
I used to think "oh God, what can
- Helen, Faith's aunt
I do?" But now it has come to pass.