Help distribute sight-saving medicine today
Vincent lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), central Africa, in a basic clay hut, with no running water or electricity. As a young man he left his rural village to earn money digging, working close to a river, to feed his wife and growing family, but years of hard physical labour took its toll on his body. Vincent had started to get lots of headaches. His skin started to itch. Then slowly, over several years, he lost the sight in one eye.
Unable to work, Vincent was forced to return to his village and look for any work he could get to save his wife Marie and their children from starving. By that time, he already had severe symptoms of River Blindness:
“I had many nodules under my skin. And I couldn’t see anything with my left eye anymore. I went to the local health centre. The doctor said that the eyesight of my left eye could not be restored. The parasites had destroyed it.”
Those parasites were transmitted from infected blackflies, which are all too common in the fast flowing rivers of the Congolese provinces of Central Africa. In fact, the condition which Vincent had contracted is called Onchocerciasis, or River Blindness, after the area where flies gather. The flies are active during day time, feeding on blood – and every bite transmits dangerous parasites.
As the parasites reproduce, thousands of larvae spread through the human body. When they reach the eyes and die there, it causes inflammation and scarring which can lead to irreversible blindness. There is no vaccine for River Blindness.
Medication is far beyond their reach
Vincent and his family live in an isolated village which even 4x4 vehicles struggle to reach. They carry water in containers from a stream – which makes them prone to catching the devastating disease too.
Vincent has to live with the knowledge that not only is his sight threatened, but his children are also at risk. Like so many people in the developing world, affording medication or treatment is far beyond their reach.
Although there is no vaccine, there is a ray of hope, and it’s one that will help not only Vincent, but his children, too.
Stop River Blindness in it's tracks
If River Blindness is identified early enough, a medicine – Mectizan – can protect sight which hasn’t yet deteriorated. Mectizan is donated free of charge by the pharmaceutical company that makes it. But we need your help to transport it, and ensure that local community workers are trained and equipped to distribute it.
A person at risk of River Blindness needs to receive this medicine every year for a period of 10-15 years for it to work. Your monthly donation will help to distribute this medicine each and every year to save the sight of people like Vincent and his children.
Help us protect the next generation in Africa
Vincent loves his children deeply, and is fearful over what the future may hold for them. Speaking about his hopes for them, he says, “I wish that my children remain healthy and finish their school and get good jobs…I hope they have always good eyes.”
For people like Vincent, blindness is utterly devastating. In many communities like his, it stops people from being included in society; from getting an education, from working and from being able to support their families. In fact, the life expectancy of a person who becomes blind in areas where River Blindness is common can be shortened by about 10 years.
Your monthly gift of £9.60 would treat an incredible 720 people over the course of a year.
- Donate £6.40 a month to help treat 480 people over a year
- Donate £9.60 a month to help treat 720 people each year
- Donate £13.44 a month to help treat more than 1,000 people over a year
- Please start a monthly donation today which will help ensure that Vincent, his family and other people under the threat of River Blindness can be protected for the rest of their lives.