Agnes & Adolphe

Please help protect children, like Agnes’s sons, from the parasites of River Blindness.

“…these littles ones… their angels are always in the presence of my Heavenly Father…” – Jesus, in Matthew 18:10

At the beginning of this New Year, we pray for protection, safety and that the Lord’s reassuring presence be with you and your loved ones.

Our cbm family has already begun the New Year with the incredible gift of a baby boy! Our CEO Murray Sheard and his wife Joy, have welcomed their new baby Jamie – a brother for 3-year-old Finn – with big, bright eyes.

Agnes in Africa has two boys, too. But Agnes lives with a constant fear that we can only try to imagine. With every New Year, her two young boys face the threat of a new flood of River Blindness parasites.

The parasites could make her sons blind, just like her father. So Agnes, in her poverty, has to constantly hope and pray that a kind and wonderful person like you will generously help supply what her family cannot afford for themselves: annual doses of parasite-killing Mectizan medication.

Please help protect Africa’s most vulnerable families. The value of the River Blindness gift you send today will be multiplied x7!!

Agnes has witnessed the entire tragic cycle of River Blindness in her father’s life.

When she was a little girl, her father, Adolphe, told her happy stories of his work by the river. He was dedicated to his wife and children, and always found work so he could provide for his family. He was a hard worker.

As her father Adolphe says, “My life was easy. I was healthy. I could support my family and still have money left to help my neighbours out.”

A good neighbour! But the green fields of sub-Saharan Africa are watered by the fast-flowing rivers where the biting blackflies breed. The flies infected Agnes’s father with the parasites of Onchocerciasis – River Blindness.

The parasites began to breed in flooding waves through Adolphe’s body. Millions of tiny worms. Eventually some found their way into the warm softness of his eyes and ate through his optic nerves.

“I have been blind for nearly 20 years,” he mourns from his clay hut. “I wish I could still work or go to the field, but I can’t. Instead, I have to stay here, waiting for death. People already think of me as dead. We have nothing.”

Tragically, his sight cannot be restored. River Blindness is irreversible. But his grandchildren – Agnes’s two boys – can be kept safe, if they receive an annual dose of Mectizan.

Mectizan only kills young larvae. The adult parasites will live on in the children’s bodies for up to 20 years – constantly releasing thousands of new larvae! This is the reason why children, like Agnes’s, need Mectizan tablets every single year.

Please will you help them get the vital Mectizan tablets they need to combat River Blindness.

Mectizan itself is donated by the pharmaceutical company Merck. They have said they will provide “as much Mectizan as necessary, for as long as necessary, to treat River Blindness.”

With the cost of Mectizan removed, this means it costs only $1 for cbm-funded field workers to distribute $7 of Mectizan. $1 is worth $7 for saving sight!

By supporting this vital programme, the impact of your generous gift will be multiplied x7!

Today, you have 7 times the power to protect children’s eyes and prevent the life-destroying pain, suffering and poverty caused by River Blindness.

If only Mectizan had been there for Agnes’s father – but he contracted the River Blindness parasites many years ago – long before Mectizan was able to be distributed.

Even before the blindness, Agnes had to watch the agony of her father’s River Blindness itching.

“It was unbearable,” her father shudders. “I was scraping and scratching. I also had lumps – nodules – under my skin. I showed them to my wife. “These are parasites!” she said. “But where can we go to get medicine for you?”

They had nowhere to go back then. There is no vaccine. Only the worm killer Mectizan – and it only works on young worms. Not mature parasites.

The mature parasites live for years – and the females can produce up to 1500 baby worms in a day!!

When a child’s skin is full of writhing worms – the child can feel them moving! When a child’s eyes are filled with parasites, parents can actually see the worms moving! When the parasites get the chance to steal children’s sight, they are blind for life!

To protect children like Agnes’s sons from unbearable itching and blindness, it is absolutely crucial to get them Mectizan tablets at least once a year.

For Agnes’s father’s blindness… “it started with not being able to see properly. Everything became foggy. Finally I could not see anything at all.”

By the time generous people like you were making it possible for Mectizan to reach remote villages, a sad doctor had to tell Agnes’s father that “help came too late, your eyes have already died because of the parasites.”

Today, Adolphe, the loving father who looked after others, has his family but nothing else in life, except a small clay hut, a wooden bed, a little bench and some dishes.

Adolphe reflects on the tragic cycle of disability making severe poverty even worse.

“If you are blind, you feel you are a burden to your family. We do not have a field anymore. I can’t get there, and my wife’s knees are swollen with rheumatism. Sometimes our neighbours show mercy and share some rice with us. Sometimes I ask my nephew to lead me through the village so I can go begging at the market.”

Spending childhood leading an elder by a stick… it is an African child’s way of showing respect and love, but it is no way to build a future.

“I couldn’t get Mectizan in time,” says Adolphe, “but my village, my family are still at risk. They can become blind if they do not get the medication.”

As this New Year dawns, we humbly ask you to pray about sending a generous gift to this important cause: protecting children, like Agnes’ boys, from the Neglected Tropical Disease of River Blindness.

Because Mectizan is donated, the impact of your gift will be multiplied sevenfold!

Your gift will help protect children from the horror of parasitic pain and blindness, and be a shield against the suffering, poverty and permanent sight loss of River Blindness. Your gift will help defend villages, like Agnes’s, against the unbearable itching and life-long blindness of the River Blindness infection.

Please send your donation today, for families like Agnes and her precious sons.

Even though blind, her father is so grateful that you will pay the cost they cannot afford.

“Please help send Mectizan,” he humbly asks you.

“I’m grateful that the medicine is provided for free. We are poor. I fear so much for my wife, daughter and for my grandsons. They could become blind.”

So many families are praying for an end to their cycle of poverty and disease.

Thank you for being an answer to their prayers, by sending your New Year River Blindness gift today.