Abrar – A 15 year old experiences sight for the first time in 2 years

Life in rural Ethiopia is undoubtedly difficult. For 15 year old Abrar Detamo, this difficult life was further complicated by his condition. He was born blind in a small village called Sankuro approximately 25 kilometers from the town of Warabe where Noor Dubai Foundation had setup its camp. Born with cataracts in both eyes, he was deprived of sight since birth. After hearing about the camp from their neighbors, Abrar and his father set out on the 12 hour walk to get to the camp site. A glance at the boy and his father was enough to deduce the state of poverty they lived in. They retained a layer of dust which hid the once colorful clothes they wore. Abrar’s father walked around the camp barefooted. Apparently he had given up his shoes to his son in the hopes of protecting him from getting hurt on the long trek to the camp. 

Immediately after his screening at Noor Dubai Foundation’s camp, Abrar was submitted as a candidate for surgery and was scheduled for surgery the next morning. As the camp was difficult to reach, the boy and his father decided to stay at the camp over night. Following his surgery, the doctors asked them to remain in the camp for one more night in order to observe the boy’s condition and conduct post operational follow up procedures.

At the camp, doctors had become accustomed to witnessing unabashed joy and wonder when removing the bandages from previously blind patients. However, this case was a little different. When the bandage came off, it was not a look of glee that settled on Abrar’s face. He looked confused and the doctors feared that the surgery had failed or that he had other diseases in his eye. They questioned him profusely in the hopes of understanding what had happened but they soon realized that he had never seen anything before and, as a result, had no comprehension of numbers, colors or even objects. His perception of the world was limited to 4 senses and now that he had gained a fifth, he needed time to process this world. Fortunately, he adapted quite quickly and was smiling gleefully at the doctors as they waved their fingers in the air. It is not every day that you witness such life changing alterations.

After his surgery, Abrar and his father were driven home by the Noor Dubai team. It was a long journey that took the team across the breathtaking plains of rural Ethiopia. As the team reached Abrar’s home, it became painfully apparent that his family of 9 lived in a state of poverty. Their home consisted of a one room hut made of mud and wood where they all slept on the floor. The interior of the hut was also home to their domestic poultry. They did not have any electricity or running water and used donkeys to transport drinking water from a watering hole almost 5 kilometers from their home. While the team was told that the father was a farmer, it was obvious that their small farm land only contained enough food to feed the family and was not meant to produce excess food for sale in the open market. This family which barely had any food to eat was also forced to deal with the realities of living in a remote location where health services were practically non-existent. Without charities such as Noor Dubai, the people living in these regions would suffer from diseases long eradicated in developed nations. A visit from Noor Dubai was all it took to cure Abrar and give him the opportunity to live in a more prosperous future. It is difficult to think of what would have happened to him if he had continued to live in blindness.