In the heart of the Karamoja Region, a woman named Apolot lived in shadows for 14 long years.Her world was one painted in darkness because of cataract, an eye health condition which causes clouding of the eye’s lens and leads to a decrease in vision and eventual
blindness.“People in my village have known me as the blind lady,” says Apolot.
Life dealt Apolot a harsh hand.Not only did she lose her sight, but she also had no family to support her.All alone, she found herself unable to do things for herself like fetching water,cooking, or even dressing herself. And her vulnerability made her an easy target for robbers
who would come and steal from her,leaving her even more impoverished.
“My husband and my children died, so I had no one to stay with,” narrates Apolot.With no one to look after her she had to rely on the benevolence of her neighbours and kind-hearted individuals in the community to navigate through daily life.And it is through this
kindness that she learned about an eye health screening camp,supported by Sightsavers, that was taking place at Moroto Referral Hospital.
“We were at Church when my neighbour told me to go to Moroto for treatment, but I was confused by what she was saying because the only thing I knew about Moroto is the Mountain.” Earlier in the year Alpina,her neighbour,had undergone cataract surgery at the hospital and because she was now able to see, she was hopeful that her friend’s sight could also be restored. “My daughter can take you there,” Alpina urged.
Even though she was uncertain that she would be able to see again, she agreed to be taken to the hospital by her friend’s daughter.When the bandages were removed, the world around her was still a blur.But as she reached down to grasp her walking stick, a special moment unfolded. “At first, I couldn’t see clearly so I bent to pick up my stick.But as I was sitting back up, I saw people seated on a bench and I greeted them,” Apolot recounts, her voice resonating with happiness and hope renewed.
With her sight now restored, Apolot is excited about regaining the autonomy she once knew and looks forward to a brighter future.She hopes to find work on people’s farms so that she can earn an income to support herself. “I am very happy now that my sight has been restored. I feel like a young girl again, I can now see,” says a cheerful Apolot.
As Apolot gazes upon her reflection, her fingers trace the contours of her face, and she is overcome with gratitude.She marvels at her own existence, at the simple beauty of seeing her own hands and the clothes that adorn her.It is a gift she thought lost forever, a gift she will
now cherish with every waking moment.
In Uganda, stories like Apolot’s are emblematic of a broader issue. A significant portion of the population in rural areas,don’t have access to eye health services. Apolot’s journey serves as a reminder of the transformative power of eye health services, underscoring the need for
increased awareness and investment to ensure that everyone can have access to these services.
Apolot was able to get support for her eye health issue through a Sightsavers inclusive eye health project which started in 2015, funded by the UK government through UK Aid Match.It aimed to restore, save, and protect sight across rural and high-poverty areas in the Karamoja sub-region in Uganda, making sure that no one is left behind, especially women and people with disabilities. It has helped over 19,000 people access basic eye health.