Saving sight in Ethiopia: Tajitu’s story

January 15th, 2014 by TOMS

Name: Tajitu

Age: 65

Location: Gimbi, Ethiopia

Giving Partner: Light for the World

For more than a year, Tajitu believed she could no longer see just because she was getting older. At 65, her husband and three children — two elder boys and one young girl —took care of her; helping to feed and dress her, and assisting in Tajitu’s daily activities.

Over time, her impaired vision became unbearable; a major challenge to her entire family, who earns an income from a small farm that produces coffee products. Tajitu’s eldest son, who works for the government in a town called Gimbi in the family’s home country of Ethiopia, heard about the Nekemte Secondary Eye Care Unit and the eye care services supported by TOMS and Sight Giving Partner Light for the World. Founded in 2006, the Nekemte Secondary Eye Care Unit has served over 5 million people in Ethiopia suffering from visual impairment and blindness.

After the family learned of the available eye care services, Tajitu and her youngest daughter — who acted as her caretaker — walked for more than two hours to the eye care unit for an eye examination. There, Tajitu was diagnosed with a cataract], which had caused her to lose sight completely in one eye. The very next day, she had a TOMS-supported cataract surgery at the Nekemte Secondary Eye Care Unit. (This means that someone’s purchasing a pair of TOMS Eyewear helped fund Tajitu’s sight-saving surgery.)

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After her eye patch was removed, Tajitu was excited to be able to see her daughter again at the post-op examination. She said it felt like a miracle.

“This [is] a great time in my lifetime…” Tajitu shared with doctors at the clinic, smiling at her young daughter. “I have no words to express my feeling for such a gratifying service.”

Upon returning to her village, Tajitu has started to walk alone again and help in daily chores, including taking care of the daughter who helped her so much. She is eager to share her story with those suffering from similar visual impairments. Tajitu told Light for the World of her intention to encourage people to seek Nekemte’s services and advocate for the opportunities the eye care unit provides.