My first breakdown moment in Africa
My first breakdown moment was after visiting the Burra region of Hawassa. All of the villages we are visiting on this vision trip are still collecting water from their original sources. To say these areas are in desperate need of water would be an understatement.
One of the last villages we visited on this day had a water source which was over 90 minutes away. The conditions here were far worse than in the other areas which were already deplorable situations.
The flies were everywhere. Many of the children in the community were sick and had runny noses, so the flies were attracted to this and clustered onto their faces making it difficult for them to even breathe.
These children were beyond miserable.
It was here that I learned of Trachoma, an extremely contagious eye infection which is spread from contact with an infected person often transmitted by the flies.
Trachoma causes more blindness and vision loss than any other infection in the world. In these rural areas that lack basic resources, the disease can spread like wildfire.
To make matters worse, when the women give birth in these areas, due to the lack of clean water, they are unable to properly clean the babies which further attracts the flies.
Even to document this was a struggle. The flies were crawling all over my hands, onto my face and into my ears. Trying to be steady as I held the camera to capture their stories was quite the challenge.
We tell them, “water is coming” and, “soon you will have a well for your village.” But there is no way for them to fully understand the impact this clean water close to home will have on their lives. They have never known a life without extreme hardship and struggle.
I hope to return soon when the water comes, so that I can capture the look on their smiling faces and feel their renewed sense of hope and quality of life.
Did you know…
Globally, almost 1.9 million people have vision loss because of trachoma. In fact, 2021, 136 million people lived in trachoma-endemic areas and were at risk of trachoma blindness.