Tsehay's Story - Orbis helped me change my life

Let us introduce you to Tsehay - an Orbis-trained Integrated Eye Care Worker, also known as the 'mother of eyes'. She's extremely passionate about her work and dreams of becoming an ophthalmic nurse one day.

Passionate and dedicated Tsehay is nicknamed the 'mother of eyes'

It can’t be a coincidence that Tsehay’s name means “sunshine.” She has a ready smile and laughs easily. It must be comforting for patients. Tsehay loves her work.

I was very sick when I was little and nurses took care of me – that’s why I wanted to become a nurse. It was my childhood dream,” she tells us. She was working as a nurse at Zada Health Centre when the woreda sent her to complete Orbis-supported training to become an Integrated Eye Care Worker. While it wasn’t planned, Tsehay is very happy it happened. “I’m very interested in eyes. I enjoy doing eye surgery!

She treats people in her local community for trachoma, and carries out sugery to treat the late stage of the blinding disease – trachoma trichiasis (TT). A brief surgery can re-invert someone’s eyelid and relieve the excruciating pain of the condition, as well as halting sight loss.

Considering the number of surgeries that Tsehay has performed, among other treatments, it’s clear her role – and that of Orbis - is crucial within the community. “Orbis is working with us. Orbis is supporting the public and the health centre as well,” Tsehay explains.

Trachoma trichiasis turns the eyelids inwards, meaning the eyelashes scrape the eyeball causing excruciating pain


Integrated Eye Care Worker, Orbis

Since Orbis start­ed to inter­vene in this dis­trict there have been mas­sive changes, includ­ing reduc­ing the num­ber of tra­choma patients; now we don’t treat patients in the health cen­tres, we also go to the com­mu­ni­ty, through out­reach and cam­paign pro­grammes – that way we can iden­ti­fy tra­choma at an ear­ly stage and treat it before they need surgery. The build­ing of the latrines and the water­points also helped great­ly for the low­er preva­lence of trachoma”

Amazingly in the last 13 years she has performed operations on over 600 people

Tsehay feels that Orbis has had a great impact on the community she works and lives in – the community feels that Tsehay also has had a great impact on the community. She is known as “the mother of eyes" because she has helped so many with their sight.

This is the part of her role she enjoys the most – helping people.


Integrated Eye Care Worker, Orbis

I’m very hap­py when peo­ple regain their sight – I feel very hap­py when I see them, and to solve their problems.”

Hopefully she will be able to help people for years to come. Since her original training and refresher training, Tsehay’s interest in ophthalmology has grown and she has big ambitions.

"I want to study further – I want to become an ophthalmic nurse. Now I am fascinated about the eye and the surgery, I want to carry on with ophthalmology!”

Tsehay would make a fantastic ophthalmic nurse. The dedication she has to her work is incredible.

We first met Tsehay in 2013. A lot has changed since then. Alongside refresher training in TT surgery, and additional training in refractive error screening, things have changed in her personal life too. “A lot of things have changed in my life! I had a baby – he’s almost five. I also support my brother, who is in university, and he’s graduated – I feel so much accomplishment from this.

Orbis helped me change my life," says Tsehay smiling.

Tsehay is making a huge difference in her community

Thanks to dedicated and caring people like Tsehay, we can keep boosting eye health in communities across Ethiopia.

Are you ready to help us train more community health care workers in all aspects of eye care?

Obito Surgery


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Orbis Ethiopia Martin Kharumwa 411


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