Mark Maina, our Regional Communications Coordinator in Kenya, met five-year-old Larisha, her mother Angela, and Larisha's grandmother, Helen, at an eye camp supported by The Fred Hollows Foundation in Homa Bay County. Here, Mark tells the story of three lives transformed.
It’s not often that a grandmother and granddaughter get their sight restored on the same day.
Angela tells me that she arrived at the camp at six o’clock in the morning with the hope of getting treatment for her daughter Larisha.
“I first noticed the white pupil when she was just a month old,” she said. "I took her to a local health centre and they referred me to Sabatia Hospital but I did not have the finances to go at the time. Years later, I realised it was getting worse and her vision was deteriorating and after hearing an advertisement about this eye camp on the radio I decided to come today.”
Angela comforts Larisha after surgery.
As well as being her mother, Angela is also Larisha’s teacher. It's something that Angela balances with caring for her 79-year-old mother-in-law, Helen, who is also partially blind from cataract.
“I assumed Larisha's condition was hereditary since my mother-in-law also has cataract
. She's here today too - is in the next ward,” Angela said.
Grandmother Helen can't hide her excitement
Helen is a very jovial lady. Although she has been blind for a number of years, she has a great sense of humour.
Helen smiles after successful cataract surgery.
My granddaughter used to tell me that I have something in my eyes that looks like a white sweet - and that...she has the same 'sweet' in her eyes."
- Helen, cataract surgery recipient
Helen’s loss of vision has led to a loss of independence – something she is looking forward to regaining after surgery. “Next time I will go by myself to the government offices for my pension,” she said. “I also want to be able to vote in the upcoming elections and sweep my house.”
The day after Helen and Larisha’s surgeries, Helen cannot hide her excitement. “You have very nice teeth,” she tells one of the nurses with a big smile.
You have very nice teeth!
- Helen, after her cataract surgery
“People back home discouraged me, saying I would not get my sight back. I cannot wait to go back and prove them wrong. I am a clan elder and now I will be the one taking notes during meetings because I can see.”
Angela's life has changed too
Angela is also ecstatic - her daughter will now be able to keep up in class and hopefully go to university to fulfil her dream of becoming a pilot.
Angela’s life will also change for the better. “I can now finish my teaching course and don’t have to stay at home to take care of Helen and Larisha,” she said.
Angela joyfully kisses Larisha after her surgery.