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An Interview with Aissettou
An interview with Aissettou Toure by Laura Crow
I don’t know my age, but I’m old enough to have grandchildren. In my family we are six people. I had 10 children but 8 died when they were young and now only 2 are alive. I came here today with my brother’s wife.
How long did it take you to get here?
We started travelling at 2pm and arrived here around 6pm- so about 4 hours.
Tell me about the problem with your eyes?
At the start, I had a bad head ache; it came down to my left eye and then spread through to the right. Even though it hurt, I could still see.
I started losing my sight gradually, bit by bit until I could no longer see. I was very worried- I’m sure you can understand that anyone who loses their sight would be scared. At first I didn’t know I could get help.
Tell me about what you can see.
It is not totally black, but I can’t make anything other than shapes out.
How long have you been without vision for?
I have been blind in my left eye for three years and for one year in my right eye.
Did you go and see any doctors or any other health providers?
I visited a traditional healer and then decided to come to see a doctor.
What did the healer tell you?
He wanted to do an operation. I couldn’t accept that, because I had heard about a place where they did this operation in a bad way, and it did not go well and a woman’s eyes were hurt.
Why did you choose the health centre here?
I heard about the centre and It had a good reputation, that is why I was curious to come.
Who told you about the health centre?
I have a brother who works near here in the military barracks; it was through him that I came here.
What did he say to convince you to come?
My brother lives here, so I know that he was informed here. Some people he knows had the same problem as me, but they had an operation and it was successful, so after finding that out he told me that I should come here.
Do your eyes hurt?
Yes they hurt when I see light. Even though I can’t see, I know when there is light as it hurts my eyes, and I can tell if something is blocking light- but I can only know what that thing is by touching it with my fingers.
What is your job?
I am a farmer, I farm fonio and millet. It is hard work and after we harvest it we eat some and some of it we sell. It takes 4 months to grow. I also grow cabbage. I don’t cook because it is dangerous for me, not being able to see. The wife of my son does the cooking.
Tell me about the tasks and duties that you are able to do.
Now that I have no vision, I can’t do anything. All my worries at the moment, are about I can regain my sight. What I miss the most is seeing my children and all my grandchildren. I want to see them again I have 2 children and 2 grandchildren.
I have already had one operation, it didn’t hurt. I was keen to have the second eye operated on soon as I want to see my grandchildren with both eyes. I was very worried about the operation, but I put it out of my mind. Now that I have had one, I was happy to have the second operation.
What advice would you give to someone in your village that had a problem with their eyes?
I would tell them to come to the eye centre at Labe. Most people where I am from don’t know about the hospital here and many will go to traditional practitioners. I would encourage them to come here to Labe. I would tell them that if you stay in the village and don’t seek help from doctors you will lose your sight, this is especially true if they visit a traditional healers- as they operate using their hands, and they arent always clean which cause problems. That was the reason why I was persuaded to come here and I refused to have the traditional healers touch my eyes.
After the operation:
One of the tests they do initially to check vision is to hold up different fingers and check that the patient can see how many are being held up. After having her bandages off, Aissettou Looks at fingers and gets all the diff numbers being shown to her correct, which she is very pleased with.
After the bandages were taken off Aissettou was very quiet for a few minutes so we moved on to the next patient and gave her some space then all of a sudden- she shrieked and everyone went over to check she wasn’t in pain, but she was laughing and crying as the enormity of getting her sight back struck her.
Heeeaaay! (Shrieks with joy)! - I just can’t believe my eyes. I am really happy and I wept because I can see everyone in front of me. I can see with both eyes!
I’m happy I feel healthy again and I wish myself good luck and good health.
Praise god for giving me back my sight. I look forward to seeing my husband; it is two years since I have seen him with both eyes.
Now I can see again, my life will change. I am praising God and thanking Sightsavers.
Now I have my sight back everything is OK for me. I will go back to my home and start my daily activities again. I will be able to grow ground nuts and fonio.
I give thanks to the doctors and to Sightsavers. I have no gift and I can’t pay, but I give thanks to them from my heart. Thank you to everyone- there is no limit to my joy, the only thing I can do is to thank you.
Its thanks to you! Our supporters, that people like Aissettou can get the help they need to allow them to live their lives to the fullist. So thank you for your support.