We started with a simple goal; to improve the lives of our Samburu neighbours.
In just over 10 years our small and energetic team have returned sight to more than 500 people.
Eye Camps Overview 2014
- Julia Francombe
Very few of us ever stop to think how lucky we are to wake up each morning with our eyes. Watch our children play or see the sunrise.
In Samburuland community life is still very strong and everyone is carefully taken care of. The children lead and care for the blind. When an adult loses their sight – a child loses their childhood.
We’ve found the simplest and most effective method of operating in the field; with a mobile surgical tent we take the eye care to the people. In this way we are able to help the whole community, including the elderly who could not walk the distances to a clinic, and the mamas who with their many chores and responsibilities will never leave long enough and are too scared to go to hospital for an operation.
There have been numerous times when a mama who is almost blind will barely agree to take 2 days off for us to operate. This is where the Samburu Trust Warrior Scouts have been invaluable. They are trusted members of the community and can sit and explain the process to anyone anxious.
For the duration of the eye camps they become helpers and nurses assistants, making tea and reassuring people, cracking jokes and making everyone as comfortable as possible.
Here are some of my top memories over the 10 years:
Tweezers made by the local spear maker. trachoma has haunted the samburu people for much longer than anyone realises. They use the tweezers to pull the ingrown hairs from their eyes. Sadly – long term this causes more of a problem as the new hair growth – sharp as a razor does more damage to the eye.
The day we received our vehicle was the day we really made a difference. Taking the team deep into Samburuland, carrying patients and equipment through wide sand luggas (dry watercourses) and rivers.
Sybil, our mobile surgical tent
Sybil is an old family friend and arranged funding for the mobile Surgical tent. With double netting windows – this was the first time the team could operate free from flies. Thank you Sybil our tent is the best.
Elder’s first sight
When he lay down on the bed he was blind, and when he sat up he could see. One moment none of us will forget is a 70 year old dancing around a room as if he was a moran, having had his sight returned to him after 7 years of being blind. He was most excited to see his grandchildren, and his goats!
Click the link to visit our follow up video to this story where we interview the elder about his experience!