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“Now she plays with other children and walks by herself!” says Lilia’s father.

When Lilia was six months old, her parents knew something was very wrong with her vision. She couldn’t follow her parents’ movements with her eyes, cried constantly, and didn’t want to eat. Lilia’s parents were devastated. Living in a poor, rural area of Mwaro Province in central Burundi, they couldn’t afford to travel to Bujumbura, the capital, for treatment, nor could they afford the cost of Lilia’s eye care.

The family was relieved to learn about a nearby Community Eye Centre (CEC) that could treat Lilia for free and provide transportation to and from their home. At the CEC, Lilia was diagnosed with congenital cataracts in both eyes. At just eight months old, Lilia underwent sight-restoring surgery and was given a pair of glasses, funded by Seva Canada donors. The doctor advised the family that Lilia would need to come back for regular follow-up visits and new glasses as she continues to grow.

For nearly 40 years, Seva Canada has made it their mission to restore sight and prevent blindness in low- and middle-income countries. With decades of experience and with the help of unique partnerships, Seva works to establish locally managed eye care programs that will continue to serve people and communities long after Seva’s involvement is complete.

“For many children in low-income countries, blindness and visual impairment means poverty and loss of opportunity. Millions of children could see tomorrow if only they had access to care. This is especially true for girls who make up two-thirds of children living with vision impairment. 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,” said Penny Lyons, Seva Canada’s Executive Director.

Today, Lilia is a happy 18-month-old toddler who keeps her parents busy chasing her around as she explores her surroundings. “She has gained weight and no longer cries like she used to. I hope she will be able to go to school like other children!” says her mother, with a beaming, hopeful smile.

Give a child in a low-income country the gift of sight from $25. seva.ca

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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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