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Nine-year-old Eric was born with cataract, but living in a remote village in the hills of Rwanda meant accessing health care was nearly impossible. 

When visiting community health workers examined Eric, they immediately contacted leading eye surgeon Dr Ciku Mathenge – the first female ophthalmologist trained by The Fred Hollows Foundation in Africa. 

Because Eric had been blind since birth, his brain had never developed the pathways needed to interpret visual stimulation. Even with surgery, Eric only had a small chance of being able to see. It was a chance Ciku decided to take. 

Through training surgeons like Ciku, The Foundation is providing sustainable eye health services in Rwanda. Ciku herself has gone on to train many other surgeons so more children like Eric can receive sight-saving surgery.

“No matter how many children like Eric I perform surgery on, it still gets to me, because each story is so tragic and so personal,” Ciku said.