December 29, 2008 Trachoma – First it destroys your eyesight. Then it steals your future. Then it goes after your children. Dear Friend, I’m an eye surgeon with cbm in Malawi. I’ve been working in Africa for 16 years. And I am still horrified by what trachoma does to people – it’s a life sentence of suffering. Trachoma is a vicious, contagious and progressive eye infection. Children typically get it for the first time when they’re very young. Repeated infections gradually create scar tissue on the underside of the eyelids. Eventually the eyelids turn in, and the lashes break, leaving hard edges. Every blink scrapes the cornea. In adults it’s horribly painful – and leads to irreversible blindness. That’s why I asked Dave McComiskey if I could write to you today. So I could ask you to help me stop trachoma from causing people to go painfully and permanently blind. As a committed Christian, I sometimes find it hard to reconcile verses like John 10:10 with the day-to-day reality of Africa. I sincerely believe that Jesus came that we may have life “and have it to the full.” But what I see around me is far from abundant or full life. Each day, I meet people like Adise Fombe. When I met her, Adise’s future was hanging by a thread. So was her children’s future. Trachoma was steadily killing her hopes that her children might have a better life. For five years, Adise suffered from advanced trachomatous trichiasis – inturning of the eyelids in both eyes. Her jagged eyelashes were acting like sandpaper on her cornea, blink by blink moving her towards total blindness. Adise lived with relentless pain and in constant fear that she would lose her last little bit of sight, condemning her children – ages 7, 3 and 18 months – to a perpetual fight to care for themselves and their mother. Yet I – and many other cbm doctors you support – know how to cure people like Adise and how to treat children like hers. All we need are the necessary resources. When I met Adise, her children were on the verge of chronic malnutrition, with no income and little food. Their father had died the year before, and they had no close relatives in the village. The oldest daughter had to do household chores and help grow the crops on which the family’s survival depended. None of the children had much hope of attending school. But Adise was found by our Ngabu Eye Program. Our surgery freed her from pain and saved her remaining eyesight. Now, she’s able to maintain her independence and devote herself to her children. …/2 cbm canada 3844 Stouffville Road, PO Box 800, Stouffville ON L4A 7Z9 Canada 1.800.567.2264 • Phone: 905.640.6464 • Fax: 905.640.4332 • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org • www.cbmcanada.org You can give that same gift to others. We have the medicines, tools and techniques. But we need your help to act quickly and to reach more people. And the need is urgent. We reached Adise in time. But every day, more parents cross the line to irreversible blindness. And many more children are infected. So I’m asking you to act now. You can transform the lives of people like Adise and her family. The cost is only $31 per person. Can you imagine a better way to bring in the New Year? Instead of remembering this as the year she lost her sight, a mother like Adise will remember 2009 as the year her sight was saved! You can make this kind of direct difference – by funding such an operation. For children, we use an antibiotic ointment to cure trachoma and stop its spread. We apply it twice a day for three weeks. The ointment cost is $1 per child for the three weeks – that’s it – just $1 per child. Then, for the whole community, we teach the importance of face and eye washing among children, and basic sanitation to prevent the cycle from starting all over again. Once the children are treated, they can go to school without infecting their friends. They can take advantage of programs for their health and education, and claim a different, better future. Adults can care for their families. And when the community begins to act together to improve sanitation, they also start acting together to improve other areas of their life. This is one way you and I can ease suffering and bring hope in Jesus’ name. It’s a tangible way to tell these people that Jesus’ came to bring them abundant life. I see lots of misery. What trachoma does is hideous to body and spirit. But I also have the joy of seeing many cured. I see how people look when they realize that they’ve been given back the future… that there are solid reasons to believe their children will have a better life. As a missionary eye doctor, I don’t often ask for funds. But I know that a gift of $31, $50 or $100 – any amount you can give – will have a specific, life-changing impact. The change is not just physical, but emotional and spiritual. Some very needy and sick people will be introduced to the abundant life that Jesus promised. Every dollar will end someone’s pain and save someone’s sight. Your gifts will be gratefully received and expertly used to fight the devastation of trachoma. Thank you for considering what you can do. God bless you for caring enough to help, Dr. Nick Metcalfe, D.R.C.Ophth. cbm Malawi P.S. Every dollar you give will end someone’s pain and save someone’s sight. The long-term impact of your gift will be multiplied many times over in the lives of people like Adise and her children.