Wel is a five-year-old boy who lives with his parents and an older sister and brother. His parents are subsistence farmers while he and his siblings are students. His mother forages for food and fishes to supplement their meals, while his father also works as a day laborer. The income he receives is just enough to cover their daily expanses but is not enough to pay for basic healthcare.
On the 26th of December 2019, Wel was playing with pebbles at school with his friends. When he came back home that afternoon, he was crying but no one was home; his mother was away fishing. When she came back home and saw him still crying, she asked him what was wrong. Wel told her that while he was playing with his friends at school, one of his friends threw a pebble that hit him in his left eye. Since then, his left eye hurt a lot. His mother checked his eye, but she did not see any redness, and thought that the pain would go away after a while. Five days later, Wel complained that his left eye hurt more than before. His mother then took him to Hpa-An General Hospital, where his eye was checked. The doctor saw pus in his left eye and told his mother to take him to a hospital in Yangon as they cannot do anything for him there. The doctor provided him with eye drops and they returned home.
Wel’s mother did not have enough money to go to Yangon. His mother administered the eye drops for him, but his eye did not get better. His mother started to worry more about him and tried to look for a way to take him to another hospital. One of their neighbors suggested that she bring him to Mae Tao Clinic (MTC) in Mae Sot, Thailand, as she has been to the clinic before. On the 5th of January 2020, Wel’s mother borrowed 100,000 kyat (approx. 100 USD) from a neighbor and took him to MTC. There, his eye was checked but the medic referred him to Mae Sot Hospital (MSH), as they could not treat Wel at the clinic. When Wel arrived at MSH, the doctor examined his eye and told Wel’s mother that he has an ulcer in the cornea of his left eye. His left eye had turned white and he also had pus due to the infection in his eye. The doctor told them that unfortunately the only option left was to remove his left eye so that his right eye would not become infected as well. Wel cried when he learned that his left eye had to be removed. Wel’s mother however agreed to the procedure and he was scheduled to receive surgery on the 20th of January. Unable to pay for the surgery, the medic at MTC referred Wel to Watsi medical partner Burma Children Medical Fund for assistance in accessing treatment.
Currently, Wel’s left eye is itchy and has discharge coming from it. He cannot look at sunlight, as if he does his eye hurts. Before he stated taking the painkillers provided by MSH, his eye was very painful. He can no longer see anything with his left eye.
“I want him to continue his studies after he receives treatment and I would like him to become either a teacher or a nurse in the future,” said Wel’s mother. “I don’t want him to work on the farm like us because he will have only one eye, so I want him to get a good job.”