Blog by Sara Aghajanian Photos by Geoff Oliver Bugbee
Sara Aghajanian is Communications Associate at ORBIS’s New York Office. In November, Sara travelled with ORBIS Visual Communications Consultant Geoff Oliver Bugbee to document several of ORBIS’s rural projects in Ethiopia.
“Trachoma you are not welcome! Trachoma you are not welcome!” I took this video as students and teachers from the Bollazame School sang to welcome us to their school. We were anticipating a small group to tell us about their efforts at the school to prevent trachoma. I arrived in at the school in Bonke Woreda and was overwhelmed by the number of people that had come to welcome us.
One of the most unique efforts of our projects here is the support and development of school eye health clubs. Every week during the student assembly the eye health club educates students about maintaining their eye health.
During our visit, the passion of the community was unmistakable as everyone was eager to show us examples of these efforts. Hundreds of community members gathered as the school eye health club performed a trachoma-focused drama, danced and read poetry to educate the community about the importance of eye health, trachoma prevention and good personal hygiene.
“I feel that I am playing a great role in my school because I am helping my students,” Zerihoun Kassa, teacher and a leader of the eye health club told me. Zerihoun was trained by ORBIS to screen and refer students with eye issues to the local Health Office. ORBIS also supported the construction of latrines on the school grounds for boys and girls with hand washing facilities available.
We left the school with a great sense of pride for this community and their dedicated efforts to educate their peers and prevent trachoma. Trachoma is not welcome here and that was clear!