Rose: From teaching to trachoma
As a former primary school teacher, Rose is no stranger to the feeling of making a difference. But since the 39-year-old left the classroom to train as a health surveillance assistant (HSA), the impact she has had on people’s lives has become even more tangible.
Trained by Sightsavers through the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Rose is part of a team of HSAs working across Malawi to identify trachoma in isolated communities and ensure people receive the help they need.
Posted to the remote area of Kasungu, Rose lives under basic conditions and regularly walks up to three and a half hours to the main road to catch a lift to town. But while there she is able to put her training into practice to identify preventable illnesses and refer people for treatment.
“Since my trachoma identification training I have managed to bring out five cases that have been successfully treated,” she says.
Among these is 42-year-old Rezina Jason, who had lived with trachoma in both eyes for 20 years.
“I used to experience excruciating eye pain, blurred vision, irritation and eye discharge caused by the scarring of the eyelids when eyelashes turn inward to scratch and scar the cornea,” Rezina explains. Her husband, Mataka, took over all the household responsibilities, including walking long distances to fetch water and firewood, and cooking for the family. This reduced his own economic productivity, and the family suffered serious poverty as a result. Following Rose’s diagnosis, Rezina underwent surgery and the whole family received a new lease of life.