Asgedech is being blinded in a most painful way, while trying to raise five grandchildren, who suffer the same condition – but you can help change everything for Asgedech and her five grandchildren …

As many grandparents in New Zealand know, raising children and grandchildren on your own can be challenging, but what a testimony of love it is.

“Grandparents have the crowning glory of life: grandchildren…” -Proverbs 17:6

Imagine trying to raise your grandchildren when you have an infectious disease called Trachoma. Every time you blink it hurts… slowly and painfully you are blinded by your own ingrown eyelashes.

That is what is happening to Asgedech, a loving and selfless grandmother in Ethiopia, who does not have the means to protect her eyesight from Trachoma.

Before Trachoma, Asgedech’s life was already very challenging. Her husband died long ago. She only has a tiny income from selling vegetables, no adult children to help her… and now, a truly dangerous infection has entered her home.

Trachoma is the leading cause of infectious blindness and some of the highest Trachoma rates in the world are right where Asgedech lives.

Trachoma is highly infectious, entire villages have it. It is especially prevalent in grandmothers, mothers and young children as they spend most of their time together at home.

Asgedech and her five grandchildren, aged six to twelve, all have Trachoma.

With no power, no running water and no hygiene facilities in Asgedech’s home, her precious grandchildren do not have enough water to keep their faces clean. Flies constantly land on their skin, depositing Trachoma germs.

The children just have to look at their beloved Grandi to see what could happen to their own eyes. If the bacteria is not stopped, they will develop Trichiasis – ingrown eyelashes.

With every blink, their sharp lashes will scrape across their defenceless eyes.

Please do not let Trachoma destroy these children’s eyes. By sending your donation to help reach remote families with the antibiotics and eye ointment that will save their sight, the value of your gift will be multiplied 8 times.

This is how your gift can be multiplied so much: Pfizer has generously agreed to provide its own Zithroma**** antibiotics and Tetracycline eye ointment, free of charge.

Your gift is vital in helping to make sure those pills and ointment can reach the people who so desperately need them, even in the most remote villages where people like Asgedech and her five grandchildren live. Your generosity will be helping to save children from years of agony.

Have you ever scratched your eye? An ingrown eyelash can do that. It is hard and sharp. Every time Asgedech blinks, her eyelashes cut tiny tracks across her delicate cornea. It is extremely painful. Each of these cuts forms a tiny scar. Invisible on their own, they grow to form a misty curtain, blocking the light into Asgedech’s eyes.

Pain and blindness. Trachoma seems so heartbreakingly cruel to a grandmother who has selflessly devoted herself to her grandchildren.

Asgedech’s grandchildren have early stage Trachoma. To stop the disease from developing they must keep receiving their annual antibiotics. This is why it is important that you know about Trachoma. Without your generosity, cbm field workers are unable to reach remote towns and villages where Trachoma infections are rife.

My vision has decreased a lot during the past months,” she told cbm field worker Gizachew, sounding quite desperate. “I can´t see as before. Especially at night. I fear blindness. I wouldn’t be able to take care of my grandchildren anymore!” she cries, in fear of losing her sight completely and her beloved grandchildren.

Trachoma is so frightening and so painful for Asgedech, she has started having her eyelashes pulled out, using a grotesque pair of tweezers called a werento. It is agony to do this, and it only solves things for a few weeks, because her lashes grow back and start slashing at her eyes again.

No wonder Asgedech is so worried.

“I didn’t know the children had already started to get the same disease I have. I am fearing that they could experience the same pain… I will pray to God that nothing will happen to my grandchildren… It would be terrible if they lost their sight.”

The children too are worried now. Her first granddaughter, Kidist, says “If Grandigoes blind, nobody would take care of us. I don’t know what to do. We love her so much and we want to stay with her.”

Asgedech can no longer see well enough to work in the garden or take their produce to the market. All they have to eat is what has already been harvested. Trachoma has brought pain, blindness, depression and is now making their deep poverty even worse.

This little family is desperate, but you can do so much to help. Asgedech’s loss of sight cannot be reversed, but you can stop it getting worse… and you can protect the eyesight and the future of young ones like her grandchildren.