Top: Francísca with her mother
Below, right: Francísca
"Little by little, I realized that my vision was going, until I could no longer see," she says, remembering the year she dropped out of high school because she was no longer able to read the board. As her eyesight worsened, Francísca's self-confidence diminished. "My mother would ask me to go to the market, but for years I was too afraid to go outside by myself. I thought that something bad would happen to me."
Francísca lives in rural San Benito, Guatemala. Like many remote areas of Guatemala, San Benito has few resources and those who live there have difficulty accessing affordable eye care services. Visualiza, a long time partner of Seva is working to make eye care more accessible.
With only 2% of the country's ophthalmologists, Visualiza performs over 20% of Guatemala's total cataract surgeries—many of which are provided at low cost or for free, making services affordable for Guatemala's marginalized communities. Seva partners with Visualiza to provide outreach services to communities in need, including vision screening camps and transportation to Visualiza's outreach hospital for follow-up treatment or surgery.
Francísca's high school teacher kept in touch and convinced her to visit one of Visualiza's outreach screening camps to have her eyesight checked. There, she learned that she had a cataract and would require surgery to see clearly again.
With the encouragement of her mother and the outreach workers, Francísca overcame her fear of surgery. Seva donors covered the cost of travel to Visualiza's clinic for her and all of the other patients from the outreach camp who needed follow-up care.
"After the surgery, I could see very well—I could even see things that were far away!" Now twenty-two years old, her self-confidence has improved dramatically in the months since her surgery. She is no longer afraid to leave the house and run errands by herself. This is a great relief to her mother, who says, "Life was so difficult without my daughter's help!"
Francísca's future looks much brighter now that she can see clearly. "Now that my vision is corrected, I plan on returning to school to finish my studies."