Amal’s Story

“I asked my father to get me eyeglasses as I can’t see the blackboard in class. He told me he will do as soon as he can afford it”

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Amal is a seven year-old girl in second grade at school. She lives in Al Zaytoon area, East of Gaza, an area that is often subjected to military conflict. She has three sisters and two brothers. Amal’s father is unemployed due to the difficult economic situation in Gaza and the lack of employment opportunities.

Amal told the project team:

“I can hardly see the blackboard in my class, I had to stand in front of the board to be able to see what the teacher writes. I always ask my teacher to read what she writes on the blackboard.”

Her teacher in Tunis School said that Amal is constantly leaning over her desk to write in her notebook, and that Amal’s writing is not tidy or clear. “I cannot read what she writes. I tried to encourage her to participate more but she refuses. Amal is shy and feels unhappy, fearing the other students will laugh at her.  She even refuses to write on the blackboard as she cannot see properly.

Amal’s parents noticed the problem of her sight, after the school informed them, but they couldn’t afford to buy eyeglasses. The cost is around US$20 (approximately £15).

Through the sight screening during the project, Amal was found to have severe short-sightedness/Myopia of the left eye and laziness in the right eye, which has negatively affected her daily life. The weakness in her sight also left Amal alone and isolated from playing with her friends at school. She had only one friend and her academic achievement was getting worse.

Amal was delighted to receive her new eyeglasses. The project team and teachers observed her progress as she started to study and prepare for the end-of-year exams well. They noted that her participation in the classroom has also improved. Her writing has become much easier to read. They also noticed that Amal started to build friendships with other students at school. 

Amal noted:

“I like watching TV and playing with the girls and boys in my class, but because I did not see well, I was always afraid to play with them before. I fear falling over and hate it when they laugh at me.” When we met Amal after she received the glasses, she said: “I’m very happy with the eyeglasses. I can see the board much better now. I feel more confident that I will not fall over and I can play with my classmates. When I look at myself in the mirror, I find the eyeglasses look beautiful on me!”

Amal’s mother noticed that her daughter is now more relaxed and confident at home, she said: “Amal studies well now, and in her free time she loves to read stories and watch cartoons.

Amal is one of the 1,974 young children who were screened for eye problems in this project, and one of 450 children identified as in need of glasses.  Without this project, these children would not be able to afford the eye screening and glasses, resulting not only in distress and psychological problems, but also the high possibility of illiteracy and dropping out of school, due to the economic hardships of families living in Gaza.

Our thanks to all the UK donors who made this project possible.

*Names have been changed