As we are building our new school in Bangladesh, our partner Ben Cheong from Magical Light Foundation is keeping us up to date about everything.
Last week we received information about a 16-year-old teenage girl living in the village in Chittagong Hill Tract who stopped attending school because her vision had became blurred with white spots covering her cornea. It was suspected to be cataract, an unfortunately common eye condition for children in 3rd world countries that is often due to malnutrition and vitamin deficiency. It is the most common cause for blindness (over 50%), causing severe economic and social problems for people who are already living an incredibly hard life. However, it is also the most preventable one. For $25 and 10 minutes a simple surgery can restore the eyesight. Of course, we were more than happy to overtake the costs.
Transport was arranged to take the girl to the Chittagong Eye Infirmary and Training Complex to have her eyes examined: It wasn't cataract. It turned out that a few years ago she hurt her eyes and did not seek medical help. Within time, her eyes became infected and her vision more and more blurred. The ophthalmologist gave her some medicine and drops and the infection should go away within the coming weeks. Even though we are more than relieved that her eyesight will be restored, we can't help but feel the weight of a deeper, underlying problem.
With her family being uneducated, the girl's parents didn't realize that not having their daughter's eyes looked at and treated, could potentially lead to much more serious consequences. Yet even if they had, living in extreme poverty, they could never have afforded the trip to the Eye Infirmary. Because guess what!? The cost of her medical bill was less than the trip from her village to the hospital. For over 6 hours, the girl and her chaperone traveled by bike, bus, taxi and rickshaw. They spent the night with friends, and we told her chaperone to buy her a little gift and a nice meal before bringing her back to her village - it was the first time she had ever been to a city.
We are beyond grateful that we were there to help and cover the costs, but at the same time we are dealing with the unfathomable reality that a girl's eyesight and with that her right to an education and chance for a future, could all have been lost because her parents could not afford the travel costs to send her to a hospital. Unfortunately, we are aware that she is not the only child facing such realities, and it only reminds us that we still have an incredibly long way to go. We are committed more than ever to stride forward, and hope that you will keep supporting us on our journey.
Our latest news are regularly put together by our executive board to give you the latest updates on our work and progress.