The Little Girl from Beira

A couple of weeks ago, I was at Beira. A city that is located in central Mozambique. We (Dr. Agarwal’s’ eye hospitals) have a state of the art eye hospital there with an operation theatre that can be used to perform high end eye surgeries. During my market visit of the city, my team and I went to many government offices and private institutions, spoke to the people in charge and communicated the importance of eye care and the need for awareness about it.

This is what I do for a living. I spread awareness about eye care and find innovative ways to communicate these messages.

During once such visit, I met a young mother at the TMP (telecom department of Mozambique) office. TPM sells services and equipment to other businesses that work in the booming telecom industry in Mozambique. After listening to a 20 minute presentation that we made to her communicating the various forms of eye problems that are prevalent in the region, she told us about her daughter who had trouble seeing.

Her daughter was 6 years old, and goes to private school nearby. During one of her classes, she had accidentally fallen on her table and the edge of the table had injured her eye. A small cut was dealt with to her cornea (the outermost layer of the eye) and the girl had lost sight in her left eye.

She told us that she had taken her daughter to the government hospital in Beira where ophthalmologists looked into the child’s eye and told her that the lens in the eye was damaged and will have to be replaced. In a surgery that is very similar to a cataract surgery, they had removed her natural lens (now damaged) and replaced it with an artificial Intra ocular lens (IOL). This surgery vastly improved the child’s vision but the vision as nothing compared to what it was before the accident.

We told to mother to bring the child to us at the hospital in the evening to help us look further into the issue, suspecting a corneal tear. The lady brought her little kid to us in the evening and as suspected the child had a corneal tear which had scarred part of her cornea inhibiting her from seeing clearly. This requires what is called a corneal transplant, a process by which a foreign cornea is substituted for the child’s natural one. Post the surgery, the child would be able to see clearly and get back to her fun loving life.

She was just 6 years old and she was already going through psychological setbacks due to her inability to see clearly. Her performance in school had deteriorated and she mingled less and less with her friends by isolating herself into confinement. Very soon, the child would be able to see and have a normal life thanks to the services that we as an organization where extending to this city and the regions surrounding it.

She was running around for some time, and then stuck to a seat next to her mother. She was shy and reserved. She did smile at me for a while when I decided to take her around for a tour of the facility that we had. She looked at the high end eye care equipment with awe, asking plenty of questions which we promptly answered. After 15 minutes of sight-seeing in the hospital we sat together and played angry birds while the counselling staff explained to her mother about the condition of the child’s eye and the means to have it rectified.

A month later, the girl was operated and she has had an excellent recovery. People with corneal tears in Mozambique had no access to treatment thus far that can let them see again. At heart, I felt happy that we were making a difference in the lives of thousands.

 

Below is a picture of the girl holding my business card and a silver rose that we gave her.

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