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This blog was written by HKI’s Director of Communications after a recent field visit to Indonesia.
Most of us living in the United States take the freedom and ability to attend school for granted. Over the past 100 years, great strides have been made to ensure that all children, regardless of who they are or where they come from, have access to public education, as well as the opportunity to learn and grow through all that it offers.
However, for many children living with disabilities in other parts of the world this is not the case. In fact, of the estimated 1.5 million children in Indonesia who live with disabilities, fewer than 4% have access to any educational services. Historically, Indonesia offered very few options for students with special needs children. If one of these schools was too far for a small child to commute to every day, that child often stayed home and received no formal education at all.
Imagine that your sight is slowly declining and you have no idea why. That’s what happened to Bibhuti Chakraborthy, a 55 year-old farmer and father of three children who lives in rural Bangladesh.
Three years ago, Bibhuti noticed that he could no longer see his fields as clearly as he once did. Tasks that were once simple became more difficult because he had trouble seeing. He didn’t understand what was happening to his vision or why he could no longer see properly and everyday life became a struggle. Desperate for answers, he visited the nearest hospital where he was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy, a condition where damage to the blood vessels in your eye leads to visual impairment. Bibhuti was not even aware that he had diabetes or that diabetes could be connected to the vision problems he was experiencing. Unfortunately, Bibhuti’s story is not uncommon: people suffering from Diabetic Retinopathy are often unaware that their vision problems are connected to diabetes.
Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) affects 4.2 million people around the world, most of whom live in developing countries. With cases of diabetes on the rise worldwide, it is more important than ever that diabetics understand the risks and complications of the disease. HKI trains health workers to screen people for DR to promote early detection. The program also provides treatment and counseling that helps diabetes patients understand the risk factors associated with diabetes. Piloted three years ago in Bangladesh and Indonesia, the program has already provided screenings to 25,000 diabetics and preserved the sight of 4,000 of them.
Bibuthi is seeing much better these days. He completed a sightsaving laser treatment in his right eye and is about to undergo another surgery for his left eye. Thanks to HKI’s counseling programs and regular visits to his doctor, he now understands the implications of his diabetes. He tries to walk at least 20 minutes each morning, takes his tea without sugar and tries to balance his diet with more vegetables, cutting out the sugars and fats that worsen his condition. He also receives regular phone calls to remind him of his check-ups and treatments, and Bibuthi is glad to know that HKI is with him each step of the way as he continues on the path toward clearer vision.
This blog was written by Angela Blankenship, who teaches third grade at St. Luke School.
St. Luke School is a faith-based school in Columbus, Georgia, of about 560 students from kindergarten through eighth grade. Serve, Lead, Share in mind, body, and spirit was the school’s theme for the 2012-2013 school year.
Through this Serve, Lead, Share focus, each grade level chose an organization to support for one month. It was hard for each grade level to decide which organization they would like to support. However, it was exciting for the third grade class because St. Luke’s third graders participate in an interdisciplinary unit of study of Helen Keller.
This post was written by ChildSight® New York Program Manager Tonya Daniels.
Today is World Sight Day, a global day of awareness about the importance of eye health. It also serves as a great reminder to have your child’s eyes checked.
Did you know that up to 80% of what your child learns is through their eyes? One of the most common – and preventable – obstacles to academic success is unclear vision. The fact is if your child can’t see the writing on the board or the text in a book, it can mean the difference between doing well in school this year and failing.
It’s a familiar scene: a student suddenly starts to fall behind or lose interest in subjects they once loved. They miss homework assignments, seem distracted and act up in class. Maybe they no longer want to play sports after school with their friends. Parents and teachers are left mystified.
Pencils are sharpened, notebooks are at the ready and the excitement of a new school year, full of new beginnings and possibilities, is in the air for students all around the United States. But many are starting the school year off at a disadvantage. Some have to squint to read the blackboard or borrow notes from their friends; others lose their place while reading their text books.
This blog was originally written by Ramona Ridolfi, the Gender Advisor at HKI Bangladesh.
Last week I had the pleasure to attend the third Women Deliver Conference, one of the largest world conferences of the decade focused on the health and well-being of girls and women, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Women Deliver brought together more than 4,500 leaders and advocates, representing over 2,200 organisations and 149 countries, over a three-day event.
This blog post was written by Anitra Sprauten. Anitra graduated from Bowdoin College in 2012 with a degree in Government & Legal Studies and French. Originally from New York, she is finishing up the academic year as an English teaching assistant at the University of Western Brittany in France. She hopes to return working with INGOs to improve standards of public education and public health in less economically developed countries.
Overlooking the city from a steep hill in Tengbeh Town, the Helen Keller International (HKI) office in Freetown, Sierra Leone is frequented by visitors from many sectors. HKI does a wonderful job of coordinating its efforts with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and other non-governmental organizations, so while the office itself is not very large, its reach spans the entire country.
For many, Sierra Leone is a country of extreme hardship. Maternal and child mortality rates are very high and the general population lives with very little income. However, residents of Freetown have a profound entrepreneurial spirit, and those who do not have steady employment work as petty traders. The city experienced a rapid boom of urbanization, and as the population continues to grow, Freetown continues to catch up.
This blog was prepared by HKI Field Intern and Guest Blogger, Justin Graves. Justin spent six months working with HKI’s Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) team in Guinea and is currently an MPH Candidate at Columbia University.
When searching for a practicum site, I was keen to pursue fieldwork as I lacked experience in this area of public health. The projects at HKI Guinea presented a chance to gain skills working in the field by applying concepts and theories.
After 4 months of paperwork during the peak of Guinea’s rainy season, the first fieldwork activity presented itself and with it an opportunity to work with the infectious disease team on lymphatic filariasis (LF) research. To put the disease in perspective, the World Health Organization (WHO) considers LF to be a leading cause of long-term and permanent disability, and tackling the disease is critical to promote health in Asia and Africa. The LF situation in Guinea presents a major burden across the country. Recent mapping studies have established that approximately 4.5 million people are at risk for this debilitating disease. That is almost half of Guinea’s total population, which is estimated somewhere between 10 and 11 million people.