Bitisha, journalist in the making

Bitisha's ambition is to be a journalist. We met the then 15-year-old in February 2019 where she told us she had always “hated family photos," due to a squint that meant her eyes were misaligned - until Orbis's partners helped Bitisha access the surgery she needed to correct the intermittent exotropia, or strabismus, that caused her squint.

We first meet Bitisha at her school, surrounded by her peers. From there, she took us to her mother’s shop and Bitisha picked up her bike so we could follow her home. She ordinarily cycled the short distance to the shop where she left her bike before heading to school. Her ride home took us through a scenic route with open fields. Bitisha was in noticeably high spirits.

Bitisha from Nepal rides her bike home

You can help a child like Bitisha get back to the things she loves.

At Bitisha’s family home, the beautiful colours of the exterior were immediately striking. The house sat on a compound with two others. Behind the houses, fields opened out as far as the eye could see, creating a sense of peace and tranquillity. We settled down to have a conversation with Bitisha, who told us with a grin that she had recently turned 15. Her left eye was still visibly sore from her recent surgery.

Bitisha tells us a bit about her family and her hobbies which included reading. She talked us through her typical day; “I wake up at around 5am and freshen up, after that, I get ready and go to college. After college, I return home and finish household activities”. Bitisha also told us about her school, saying that she enjoyed it and that there were a number of subject options available to students. Bitisha told us that she enjoys sociology.

We started to discuss Bitisha’s challenges with her vision, asking her when she first noticed that she had some issues with this. In response, she said: “whenever I took photographs, my sight would be non-aligned and I didn’t use to like my photos since I came to know from childhood.” This was quite telling of the transformation in Bitisha since she had surgery as she had clearly enjoyed having her photos taken. Bitisha told us that at school, other students would also comment on her sight asking “oh, your eyes are not aligned, why is that so”?

Previously Bitisha wore glasses, which broke. After that, surgery was recommended. Living in a village however, her parents did not have much information on the procedure and as a result, were reluctant to agree. She explained: “they thought that the operation could be dangerous and it would affect my eye in the long run.” After the team from the Orbis-funded REACH (Refractive Error Among CHildren) programme visited her school, Bitisha's parents agreed to the surgery. She subsequently had the surgery at Mechi Eye Hospital.

Bitisha told us about her surgery, breaking into a huge grin as she said, “it was on 16th January and I think everything has become nice." She is thankful that she had her surgery done and felt that the REACH screening is useful for many other children who might be in a similar position to hers.

Bitisha's mother

She had com­plained that it was painful while she stud­ied, but most­ly because her teach­ers and friends tease her, she want­ed to have the surgery.”

Read more about our work in Nepal below.

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