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River Blindness

A Great-Niece in Great Need

Save children like Wajir from unbearable pain and life-long blindness. Your gift will be multiplied X7.

“There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” - Proverbs 23:18

Mairige, Wajir’s great-aunt, is totally and irreversibly blind. She believes this happened because a snake spat venom in her eyes, when she was working in the fields in Nigeria.

The truth is so much worse.

This 70-year old great-aunt talks about unbearable pain, intolerable itching… and then her eyes died.

The truth is, it was not one snake that blinded Mairige. It was hundreds of thousands of parasites. This is River Blindness.

Right now, we have a chance to stop it. In fact, this opportunity is so powerful, we can’t afford to miss it.

You see, right now the impact of your gift will be multiplied X7, because the medication that fights River Blindness is being donated by one of our healthcare partners.

Your generosity is vital, covering the cost of reaching the poorest villages with these life-protecting, sight-saving tablets.

River Blindness has left Mairige completely dependent on her great-niece, Wajir. She is a beautiful 10-year old girl with the sweetest heart, but she is at great risk. Without help, children in Nigeria more than likely will end up with River Blindness too.

Thanks to your commitment to protect children like Wajir, River Blindness is now almost totally confined to Mairige’s part of the world: the lands directly below the Sahara.

Even there, countries like Senegal and Mali have recently become free of River Blindness. So we know it’s possible!

In Nigeria, though, the blackfly parasites are still rife. 50 million people remain at risk. People like Mairige and Wajir need your help now.

 

 

“Without help from Wajir, I cannot go anywhere. I even have trouble finding my way to the toilet. She fetches my bathing water. She washes my clothes.”

Mairige buries her face in her hands as she talks about her life.

“I used to do everything myself, but since I became blind, I am totally dependent. I am very sad about my life. It’s terrible.”

When Mairige lost her sight, she lost her livelihood – and her husband, who told her to leave because she could not work. Her sister took her in. They live in deepest poverty, with no running water or power. They cannot afford school books or fees, so Wajir spends her days leading Mairige around with a stick.

All this poverty and pain started down by the river, where the blackflies bite. They inject dangerous parasites into your body.

The parasites bloom into hundreds of thousands of baby worms. They knot up together into lumps you can feel just under your skin.

Many of the worms die, releasing poisons that cause unbearable pain. “I had severe itching all over my body. It never stopped. It felt like dying.”

Imagine rubbing and ripping at your own skin, until it becomes thick and rough. They call this Elephant Skin. Poor Mairige has a lot of Elephant Skin. Even worse is Leopard Skin, where you are suffering so badly, you cut at yourself with knives, hooks and sharp spoons. Deep into your flesh. You’ll do anything to hook out whatever is biting through your nerves. It is torture. The scars leave you looking mottled and blotched – so they call it Leopard Skin.

Then the parasites go for your warm, moist eyeballs. Gnawing at everything, they chew through your optic nerves. Your eyesights dims and fades. Finally, like Mairige, you can see nothing at all.

This is blindness that cannot be reversed. Mairige has suffered so much and she will be blind forever.

What is so disheartening is that … for want of a tablet of Mectizan … this could happen to her great-niece Wajir. But with your support there is hope.

With your gift multiplied by seven, it costs less than $1 to protect a child from River Blindness. Please mark the start of this decade of vision – the 2020s - by helping children like Wajir you will protect today.

If an infected person receives a Mectizan tablet in time, it will kill the young larvae. Only the young worms, though. That it why it is absolutely crucial that everyone receives their tablets on time. At least once a year.

If Wajir misses her tablets this year, worms in her body may become mature enough to resist Mectizan. These worms will stay in her body, causing parasites and unbearable pain, and life-long blindness. Your generous gifts will stop that from happening.

Your donation will support incredible cbm-funded field workers as they scour across Nigeria, making sure every vulnerable person receives their Mectizan tablets.

You will journey with them in spirit, walking alongside cbm-funded field workers. Village to village, door to door, distributing Mectizan tablets, protecting people from the parasites. Stopping their spread.

Each cbm-funded field worker carries a bamboo stick, to measure the height of each villager, so they receive the right dose. They carefully note the person’s name, the date and the dose, to keep them safe from River Blindness, year after year.

What drives these cbm-funded field workers is knowing that Mectizan tablets are protecting children like Wajir from a lifetime of suffering and blindness.

Please be part of eradicating River Blindness and help to protect the poorest people of Nigeria from one of the world’s worst diseases. Your gift will save children from unspeakable pain caused by parasites, protect villagers from unbearable itching worms under their skin and defend children like Wajir from irreversible blindness.

Remember that with the value of the medication being completely donated, the impact of your donation is multiplied seven times – just in time to protect people from the rainy seasons surge in biting flies and parasites.

Mairige has never seen her great-niece’s loving face. It is too late for Mairige, but there is still time to protect children in Nigeria, like Wajir, from the unbearable, itching and lifelong sight loss of River Blindness. Please send your generous donation today. Thank you.

Mairige remembers an old church song and starts singing. “Yabe Jesu segotuba…” - “Jesus, we should stay in your culture and be Christian.” Despite all challenges in her life, she remains a faithful woman.

 

cbm New Zealand is a charity registered with New Zealand Charities Services since 4th February 1999, Registration number CC26154