Foundation for small aid projects in Africa
Project: Beyond eye pains
Author: Monica Commandeur
Orphans often do not have an easy life in Africa, even if there are family members who take the child into their care. When she was nine years old, Namakau got a stone to her eye from a shot with a catapult. Due to negligence, it took several days for her until ophthalmologist was consulted. Worse than the mutilation and blindness became pain, which also limited her ability to learn and concentrate. With the help of Musole Foundation the project holder allowed her to become pain-free and develop her life beyond her eye problem,17 years later.
Namakau (photos: 1998 and 2001) can’t remember exactly when the eye pain started after the accident in 2001. Immediately after, she was in little pain. After the ophthalmologist placed a lens just below the cornea, the left eye seemed almost normal, only a little red. But that didn’t last long. The cornea over the virtually blind eye became more and more irritated and the eye muscles lazy, causing the eye to turn outward; a very visible disability. The eye pain that arised and continued due to the irritated and bubbling cornea increasingly interfered with her daily life and her ability to concentrate in learning.
Shortly before the accident, Namakau was admitted to the family of an aunt, who had six older stepchildren to care for in addition to her own younger daughter. Namakau became a companion to her cousin and a handy household help.
When she grew up, Namakau learned to hide her eyes behind big sun glasses, partly because by wearing sunglasses the irritation of the eye was reduced and partly just to hide how she looked.
At school, Namakau was a moderate student, partly because her eye pain limited her ability to concentrate. However, she did complete high school until 12th grade, partly at boarding school, with her cousin. In 2015, Namakau was able to move in with a beloved half-sister and her father in Lusaka.
Thanks to the activities of the project holder and with the help of the Musole Foundation, Namakau received a corneal transplant and a new eye lens in 2017 at Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital in Lusaka. It was expected that within three months she would be pain-free and her eye would look normal and clear. Since the eye would also regain sight (30%) her eye would “automatically” straighten back in the right direction.
Two years later, Namakau was not pain-free, the eye not completely clear, and not yet straightened; her ability to concentrate was still limited and the eye’s vision only 15%.
What Namakau needs to do to get her eye straightened out, is to keep her head straight. That requires persistent training and self-discipline.
Furthermore the project holder is reluctant to provide her with still more contributions for medical follow-up checks and medications.
Education and employement
Although Namakau has finished some exams and trainings in 2019 and 2020, she has no permanent job or occupation. She is often just helping out friends. Consequently she does not (yet) consider herself to be able to provide herself with sufficient income to support herself enough with e.g. medical follow-up checks and medicines. And that is her problem now. However, it is her desire to become economically independent and she has no plans to be or stay dependent on anyone else through marriage or family ties.
If Namakau would have the ambition to get self-employed, the project holder might consider further support to Namakau, if she would be able to produce a sound businessplan for her own independant economic development, so that she can sustain her own living expenses (as well as any medical follow-up costs) from now on and into the long term future.
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Photo’s: © Monica Commandeur (1,2,3) & © Namakau Mwiya (sidebar, 4,5)