Meet 9-Year-Old Wendy
It started as a typical hot, dusty morning in Melchor de Mencos, a small town in the Peten region of Guatemala near the border of Belize. As the morning progressed, the town became crowded with people streaming in from miles around. Some came by bus, others on motorcycles, bicycles and on foot. Filled with hope, they had come to attend a Seva-sponsored outreach screening camp organized by our longtime local partner Visualiza.
Word traveled quickly that the outreach team had returned, offering free care to anyone with an eye problem. Over two days, 700 people waited patiently to have their eyes examined at the temporary clinic that had been set up in the center of town.
The first morning, the line spilled out of the front door. Many sought refuge from the unrelenting sun beneath umbrellas. A nervous mother brought her nine-year-old daughter Wendy, hoping the doctors could restore sight to her blind eye. Five years ago, Wendy had lost vision in her eye after accidentally being bumped in the head while playing with friends.
Making their way through the series of exam stations, Wendy and her mother learned that Visualiza's ophthalmologists might be able to help her see again by operating on her eye. The doctors informed them that a cataract that had formed after the injury was causing her vision loss.
Wendy was scheduled for surgery, which would take place the next morning at Visualiza's outreach clinic. Transportation was arranged for Wendy and her mother, along with all of the other patients who had been identified as requiring sight-restoring surgery. Of the 25 patients who boarded the clinic's bus, Wendy was the only child.
The next morning, dressed in a hospital gown, Wendy bravely sat with the adult patients as she waited to be called in for surgery.
Twenty-four hours later, after a successful surgery, the eye patch was removed and Wendy slowly opened her eyes. For the first few days, Wendy's vision was a little blurry. But after being fitted with a pair of prescription glasses, Wendy's follow-up exam showed that her vision had come back nicely and the surgery had been a great success! With vision restored, Wendy can now see clearly and is excited to be returning to school. Thanks to Seva donors, Wendy's future is bright and full of potential.
You can help Seva reach more children like Wendy in need of eye care with your support of Seva's sight-saving programs >
An estimated 1.4 million children live with blindness around the world and another 19 million are visually impaired. Most of these kids live in areas of the world where even the most basic eye care services continue to be out of reach. Combatting child blindness is one of the most cost effective health interventions and kids who have their sight restored are given an average of 50 years of sight.
In less time than it takes to read this article, a child will lose their eyesight. One every minute. The child will likely be living in poverty, struggling for survival in one of the many parts of the world where access to even the most basic of eye care services continue to be out of reach.
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The Fund for Women and Girls supports a variety of innovative programs and partnerships that are improving access to eye care for women and girls around the globe.
Your support of this innovative campaign made it possible for Seva to train 40 teachers in Cambodia who are screening the eyes of 29,000 students for visual impairment. These efforts are identifying children who need of glasses and sight-saving medical care, like sweet 7-year-old Bopha who is featured in this video.
This past February, a rural school in Cambodia experienced firsthand how the support and compassion of Seva donors, combined with a few dashes of serendipity, changed the lives of the students and teachers forever.