Seeing Her Smile and Dreams Come to Life


Yvette © Courtesy of Seva Canada

It was obvious to Yvette’s mother that her three-year-old daughter was struggling to see. But Burundi, where they live, has only 16 ophthalmologists and two optometrists for a population of almost 12 million people. Her mother worried about her daughter’s happiness and future opportunities.

As any mother would, Yvette’s mother went to great lengths to help her daughter. When she finally found a doctor to examine Yvette’s eyes, she was relieved when told it was just allergies. The respite was short-lived. The medicine provided didn’t help Yvette’s vision.

Using what little money the family earned from farming, Yvette’s mother took her daughter to different hospitals, hoping to find a cure. Unfortunately, the hospitals didn’t have a doctor who specialized in eye care.

When Yvette was old enough to go to school, her mother’s fears for her future increased. Yvette couldn’t see clearly enough to follow the lessons on the blackboard or read her textbooks. She was forced to drop out of school and became isolated and depressed. Yvette rarely smiled.

gift of sight
Yvette after her surgery© Courtesy of Seva Canada
Yvette before her surgery© Courtesy of Seva Canada

“Without proper care and locally available eye care services, children like Yvette often don’t finish school or learn a trade and will continue to live in poverty and face life-long challenges. This is especially true for girls, who make up two-thirds of the world’s children who are blind or visually-impaired but are only half as likely as boys to receive care,” explained Penny Lyons, Executive Director of Seva Canada (

Lyons says that’s why Seva Canada donors fund free eye screenings, prescription glasses, and surgeries for thousands of children in low-income countries each year.

With little hope remaining, the now eight-year-old Yvette and her mother made the treacherous and long trip to Bujumbura, the capital. There they visited the CTSOE (Centre Tertiaire de Santé Oculaire de L’Enfant/Tertiary Child Eye Health Center), the only eye hospital in Burundi capable of treating children with severe visual impairment and blindness.

At the CTSOE, Yvette was examined by ophthalmologist Dr. Levi Kandeke, Seva’s partner, who diagnosed her with cataract. Thanks to the generosity of Seva Canada donors, Yvette’s sight-restoring surgery was free of charge.

The next day, Yvette’s mother couldn’t contain her excitement and relief! “I am happy she can smile now. She will be able to go back to school and follow along in class! She can follow her dreams!”

When you give a child the power of sight, you are also giving them access to education, employment, and the foundation for a better life, full of potential.

Learn how you can help the over one million children living with treatable blindness in low-income countries see and succeed at

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Seva Canada is a charity whose mission is to restore sight and prevent blindness in low- and middle-income countries.


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