Janeffer Chepchumba has been teaching at Uhuru Primary School in Nakuru County, Kenya for seven years. In 2013, she added a new topic to her students’ curriculum: eye health.
Last fall, the Seeing is Believing Child Eye Health Project, one of our partnerships with Standard Chartered Bank, began training teachers of sighted children in Nakuru County. Janeffer was selected to attend the training, which focused on vision screening, general eye health, and eye health education and promotion.
Since her training, Janeffer has screened 152 children and referred 76 of them to the eye unit at Nakuru Provincial Hospital for various eye conditions. Many of the children were suffering from severe allergies. Janeffer advised their parents to take them to the eye unit to be diagnosed and treated.
“Initially, most parents were unaware and didn’t bother much when their child scratched their itchy eyes,” explains Janeffer. “Now they’re aware of the issue. Children who previously suffered from teary, red eyes are now happy their eyes are healed.”
Other students were diagnosed with uncorrected refractive error. Simply put, they needed eyeglasses. Thanks to the generous support from our donors, the students received brand new, custom-fitted prescription eyeglasses.
Grade six student Monica Adongo is one grateful beneficiary. On Janeffer’s recommendation, her mother took her to see an ophthalmologist.
“I am very happy that I can see everything well,” says Monica. “I can read what is written on the board and I don’t need to copy my friends’ work anymore. I am grateful that my teacher recommended I go to the eye unit.”
Janeffer also began a hand and face washing program at her school, after learning that proper sanitation can help prevent the spread of bacteria and eye disease. She found two jerrycans in the school kitchen and had them washed and filled with water. The children are now getting used to the practice of using the water to regularly clean their hands and faces.
Additionally, Janeffer makes eye health presentations to the students. She speaks during morning assemblies and goes from one classroom to other, educating children on proper eye care. She also speaks with the students’ parents whenever she has the opportunity.
“The training I received has made me more sensitive to the eye needs of our children,” says Janeffer. “I have been able to create awareness among my students and some parents on the importance of proper eye health.”
Janeffer plans to educate her fellow teachers on the subject, too, so they can all work together to promote eye health and plan activities for the students.
You can support teachers like Janeffer as they strive to promote eye health in their schools in developing countries. This June, please consider making a tribute gift in honour of your favourite teacher. It’s a great way to say “thank you,” and at the same time help students see a bright future!