The Health Development Army volunteer making a difference
Birznesh is a mother of four children in Berchit Kebele, a village in Southern Ethiopia. Over the last few years she has developed a passion for making a difference in her rural community.
In 2010, Birznesh undertook training in general health to become a Health Development Army (HDA) volunteer. The HDA are a team of volunteers which works alongside Health Extension Workers who encourage and teach communities to seek help for health problems.
Her initial training enabled her to engage members of her local area to discuss different health concerns, including eye care and two years later, Birznesh underwent further training to extend her knowledge and understanding of ophthalmic issues.
She learnt how to approach people and have a conversation about their eye health, how to carry out basic eye screenings and how to oversee referrals. With these new skills, Birznesh set about educating her community on the importance of face washing and how vital a clean home and a clean environment is to your eyes and overall health.
She also applied what she had learnt on her courses to her own home, recently erecting a dividing wall between her kitchen and bedroom. Her home and compound is now a shining model for the rest of the community. Thanks to this enthusiatic mother and her hard work, most households in the village now have a toilet, complete with waste disposal unit, located a short distance from the main house.
Birznesh displays her model latrine which has set a precedent in her community
Birznesh talks to a member of her community who she referred for cataract surgery
The training courses that Birznesh attended, which have given her the knowledge and skills to transform her community, were organised and funded by Orbis. Birznesh says: “The community health programme has given me a purpose beyond being a housewife and a mother.”
This amazing woman takes part in every social gathering, using the opportunity to raise awareness about eye health. She has been known to walk for many hours in search of people in need of treatment. In just two months, Birznesh has referred 18 individuals to Wolkite Secondary Eye Care Unit, a centre supported by Orbis. It is people like this who truly make a difference and help Orbis reach those in need.