17 Nov 2011

Another Dream to Fulfil

Dear Followers of Med

Today we had the debrief meeting with Dr Panades of IBO (Institut Balear Oftalmic) following his trip to Ethiopia.  The meeting was very productive.  They both arrived back very content and with a strong commitment to the project.

We can confirm that in total there are 40 children (between those that could already see and those who can now see with glasses) who can leave the Braille teaching system and attend our new classroom that we are organising to teach them to read and write.

In addition there are 100 children for possible operation.  If all goes well Dr Panades would return to Ethiopia together with an ophthalmic surgeon in the coming months.  They believe that they could carry out 60 operations during the visit.  This would be our first medical/surgical project in Ethiopia, a dream for us and many of our medical friends who are members of Med.

We are a small NGO and we know that the majority of surgeons prefer to travel with the big NGO’s that have experience in these areas.  There are a few who are prepared to risk being the first to go.  Dr Panades has opened an important road for us that we hope will become well travelled.

We know of doctors who have visited Sebeta, some have carried out statistical studies on the children, but so far none have been concerned enough for the children as people to try and treat them.  However since Med arrived in May these children have not been ignored or forgotten, thanks to all of our volunteers who have been there to help in one capacity or other: Virginia, Debora, Conchy, Chavely, Pep, Cati, Olga, Laura and Elena.  All of them have been pioneers.

Our small children of Abugida have all had their eyes checked and all enjoy good eye health.  They only detected three cases of mild myopia and one of Strabismus, all of which are now being treated to good effect…

15 Nov 2011

This Sat 19 Nov - BIC Fair in Support of Mediterranea

Baleares International College (BIC) this Saturday 19 Nov 11am are celebrating the 'Universal Day of the Child' in support of Mediterranea.  

All Med members, followers and friends are very welcome to attend and are sure to have great time with live music, dancing, games and exotic food from all over the world.

Enjoy a lovely sunny morning, surrounded by the energy and excitement of the fair.  Meet old friends, make new friends, eat, drink, make merry while supporting Med's efforts here and abroad.

13 Nov 2011

Some Progress in a Difficult Situation

We are continuing with the work at Sebeta, preparing the new classroom where the children who can see and will soon be able to see will be able to learn to read and write.  Our goal will be to allow these children to reintegrate themselves into society by June and to support them with uniforms and school materials.  As these children’s parents had been told that their children would go blind our Ophthalmic Doctor will issue certificates in English to verify that they can see.

In Sebeta there are only 220 beds for the 340 children who stay there.  This means that 120 have to sleep outside because of lack of space, of these 79 are girls, those most at risk.  They are at the mercy of men who go looking for them or their male companions from the school who also have to sleep rough.  This results in abuse and violations that sometimes ends in pregnancy.  If girls become pregnant they are thrown out of school and have to turn to begging on the streets of Addis.

This is another reason that we want to educate the children who can see, so that they can leave the blind school and return to their homes.  In this way these very vulnerable girls can occupy their beds.

Ethiopian society considers the eye as a light of the body, without this light the body is dark.  Society considers those with visual disability as people without hope, who will not be able to achieve anything, damned by God, dependent on the rest and who have to be isolated forever from society.  This perhaps explains why there are children who can see at Sebeta, simply because they can’t see in one eye or because someone has told their parents that they will go blind.

In the face of all of this we cannot stand on the sidelines.  We may not be able to change the prejudice of the people but we have to try and make things better for these children.  By next Tuesday we’ll know how many children can see and how many we can help to see again.  With this information we’ll be able to start up the new classroom, work to put these children back into society and thereby provide protection and security for the girls who are now living outdoors.

It is surreal that many of those children who can see are living indoors while the truly blind girls have to live outside.