If you’re like me, you may find yourself asking the question “why” a lot. Why is the world the way it is? Why do some people lack access to basic necessities, like water? Through my work at Operation Eyesight, I’ve come to better understand the layers of challenges faced by those living in developing countries.
In Zambia for example, many of the hardships faced by those in the Sinazongwe district can be attributed to the Kariba Dam displacements. In the 1950s, at least 57,000 Tonga people living along the banks of the Zambezi River were forced to move to make way for the construction of the Kariba Dam, one of Africa’s largest dams.
The tribespeople, who had spent years living off the fertile lands of the riverbank, had to suddenly resettle in remote areas with little rainfall and poor soil, which made crop production extremely difficult. To make matters worse, without access to clean water and proper sanitation, the eye disease trachoma spread rapidly through communities, causing many people to go irreversibly blind.
Sadly, trachoma and other consequences of the Kariba Dam displacement are still evident in the Sinazongwe district today. Our Zambia team often hears stories of families who were displaced over 50 years ago and are still struggling to provide a healthy life for their children and grandchildren.
Fortunately, we’re able to help these families through implementation of the World Health Organization-SAFE strategy, which has proven to be successful in the elimination of trachoma. SAFE stands for surgery (to treat the late stage of trachoma), antibiotics, face washing and hygiene education, and environmental change, which includes the provision of wells, boreholes and latrines.
By providing villages with fresh water, not only do we improve sanitation and prevent the spread of trachoma and other disease, but we also provide families with the means to grow crops and raise livestock. And through our community outreach and eye health education programs, we’re also able to identify those with eye problems and refer them to a local eye clinic or hospital for treatment. Thanks to our donors’ support, communities become healthier, happier and stronger socio-economically.
As you learn about situations like the one in Zambia, there’s another question you may ask: how can I help? You can help by supporting Operation Eyesight’s trachoma projects so we can provide communities with fresh, safe water and educate them on the importance of eye health.
Please consider making a donation today so families living in countries like Zambia can enjoy health and happiness for years to come.