In Aseko district of Ethiopia, nineteen-year-old Sinke has never been to school because of trachomatous trichiasis (TT). Every day since she was a young girl, her eyes itched and were irritated. Her parents would take her to the local clinic and were told to "Come back again". As farmers, with an annual income that barely supported the family, her parents could not afford to take Sinke to the hospital. Sinke's parents believed it was her fate to live with TT, and that their only option was to remove her from school.
When Sinke's younger sister, Serke, also began to display symptoms of TT, the family began to worry. Serke was in Grade 8 and was about to quit school due to the pain caused by TT. "It was so painful to open my eyes, especially when I tried to read my books or even look at the black board. It was also very painful when I blinked. I went to the private clinic in my village and the physician told me that I can cut the eyelashes when they grow," Serke said. Serke felt that it was more painful when the eyelashes grew back, but there was no alternative for the sisters until a TT surgical team from the Oromia Regional Health Bureau - which had been trained by the USAID-funded MMDP Project - came to their village.
Sinke and Serke received trichiasis surgery from the surgical team, changing their lives completely. Sinke now has a plan to go to school, beginning her life again from scratch, while Serke said that she is very happy that she is free of pain and hopes that this helps to improve her performance at school. Serke said the surgical team "saved our lives and that is like giving us back our childhood. I want to say thank you so much."