A CBR Success Story: 'I can see agan!'

SEMBE RWANGIRA is a 60 year old man, who lives in Kabusuri village with his son and his daughter in law.  Mr. Rwangira is among the people with disabilities first identified during the research that was done by Cedar Tanzania and CHAWATA, the local advocacy group for people with disabilities. The Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) medical staff introduced themselves to him as part of their regular rounds and he began receiving treatment from them soon after.    

The CBR medical officer came to Mr. Rwangira's home and diagnosed him with Diabetes mellitus and blepharitis (eye-lid inflammation). They found that he had had cataract in his right eye years earlier. But that it had remained untreated for such a long time and subsequently had caused complete blindness to that one eye. It was the left eye now that the CBR medical officer had to try and save and quickly. The eye-lid inflammation on the left eye was so severe however that it had caused the eye to shut completely.

Mr. Rwangira is a farmer, but for weeks he hadn’t been able to go to the fields. He couldn’t walk by himself but with the help of his son and grandchildren. The CBR medical officer noted that in earlier visit Mr. Rwangira was often to be found alone and unattended. He would complain about the lack of care from his family. The CBR staff have been able to mediate between Mr Rwangira and his son, and now they see small but positive changes in his overall care.  

For the diabetes mellitus, as it’s a chronic disease, the CBR medical officer normally measures Mr. Rwangira's blood sugar levels and gives him a prescription according to the results. He and the rest of his family have been given advice on the kinds of food he needs to eat and needs to avoid but these instructions have been a challenge for them to follow as the son and daughter in law often reply that he can only be given whatever food is available. The CBR medical officer continues to encourage them to make minor changes to his diet, like adding more spinach, and other leafy vegetables, or like adding some fish, which is more affordable than meat, and to reduce the overly carb-rich staple food ugali (corn/cassava mash) from Mr. Rwangira's diet.  They have promised to try harder to implement these changes for him.

For the blepharitis, he was given medication. The CBR medical officer’s regular attentive treatments have brought relief to Mr. Rwangira who can now see once again from his left eye.

Mr. Rwangira is very thankful for the treatment he has received. He feels happy and cared for by the  CBR medical staff.  Whenever the team goes to see him, he shows joy, and since he has medical officer Neema’s number, he calls her whenever he feels unwell and makes an appointment for her to visit him.

Jackie Matandiko, is Cedar Tanzania’s Field Officer who works closely with the CBR medical staff. She says, ‘I feel more motivated as I see that the work we are doing in the community is worthwhile and that it is making a difference.  Apart from the joy of achieving the project objectives there is the pleasure of seeing that we are bringing changes to people’s lives by wiping away their tears and by bringing back their smiles. This all gives me more energy to continue serving them!’

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