Lamberto: Providing for the family
Razor blades don’t usually form part of the recommended ophthalmic toolkit. But 66-year-old Lamberto felt they were his only option when the pain of trachoma trichiasis became too much to bear.
“When my eyelashes start to grow again and start to hurt my eyes I can’t do anything; I need help in washing myself. This is hard for me and my family. I must cut out the part that hurts my eyes.”
Lamberto lives in Balama-Quimka, in the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique. He has two wives and eight children, and believes he has had trachoma for over 10 years. He has lost some of his sight as a result, and for several years has found it difficult to work and to feed his family.
Having never heard of trachoma, Lamberto suspected that the pain might be some form of punishment, or that he could be the victim of witchcraft. He visited many traditional healers over the years but all failed to resolve his pain. In 2014, an announcement on the local radio caught Lamberto’s attention – the health centre was looking for people suffering from his symptoms or who thought they might be going blind, in order to provide treatment and surgery.
“I heard this and spoke to my wives and family and they said I must go to get better as the pain was so bad.”
Although travelling to the health centre was far from straightforward, when Lamberto made the journey it was confirmed that he had trachoma trichiasis in both eyes and would require surgery. This was a daunting prospect, but his family persuaded him.
“My family told me to be strong and to go for surgery because they saw the pain I was in and saw I needed help all the time.”
Lamberto received surgery through The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, 70km from his home. Throughout the long journey he kept changing his mind about whether to go ahead with the treatment, but the thought of remaining unable to support his family kept him going.
“I had to do it for me and my family.”