With 9 siblings, 3 of whom have died from malnutrition, Marialove, 10 years old, already bears in her flesh the stigmata of misery and ignorance. In addition to her stunted growth, sullen expression, and swollen face due to protein deficiency the little girl is completely blind in her left eye, and her right eye is already showing signs of Xerophtalmia, the term that covers the various effects of Vitamin A deficiency.
When Marialove came to our mobile clinic, her sister told us that, before completely losing the vision of her left eye, at night the little girl would knock on the walls of the small house and always complain about a “veil” in her eyes. At that time, the parents were unaware that it was a warning sign of Vitamin A deficiency and that their daughter was at risk of losing her sight.
There was nothing they could afford to do because of their precarious economic condition. Going to the big town and seeing an eye doctor is way over their budget. They waited until they heard of the Water For Life mobile clinic coming to their town. Only then she was diagnosed and prescribed the necessary Vitamin A, anti-parasite medication, and nutritional counseling. Unfortunately, it was too late for the left eye, but her right eye can still be saved.
Xerophthalmia affects solely poor children; even in areas of high prevalence, it only very rarely affects youngsters from wealthy families. It is a disease related to poverty, lack of education of mothers, lack of arable land, inequality, and lack of access to curative and preventive primary health care, high incidence of bacterial infections and parasites (themselves linked to lack of hygiene and access to drinking water).
In Haiti, 4% of people with blindness are children, and 40% of these cases of blindness are due to corneal opacities mainly attributable to vitamin A deficiency. The other consequences of this deficiency are the disruption of bone growth, weakened immune response, and increased risk of death.
You, the disciple of Christ, have made it possible for us to reach one of these children and save Marialove’s remaining vision. This year alone, your love and compassion have allowed us to reach 5,504 people with the Gospel and healthcare, saving many lives of women through cervical cancer screening and treatment. The cost of doing each clinic runs into $10,000+. We count on your compassionate hearts in order to accomplish this, as we plan each year to do 8 mobile clinic outreaches. On behalf of the poorest of the poor, your brothers and sisters in Christ, thank you!