Below is a story about one of our students on campus told by our Homelife Director, Linah!

A couple of months ago, the Homelife Department sat down and we asked ourselves, “How does it look when Homelife is succeeding?”.

We came up with several pointers and the one that really stood out to us was…

When each child finds their voice and knows that it matters.

We were in the process of working on actionable and measurable strategies to help us achieve this when one of our students, Hope, vocalized an issue she was dealing with. Hope joined Canopy 2 years ago and is currently in the 6th grade. She has struggled with a pre-existing eye problem which her parents said started when she was 2 and half years old. It was treated as allergies and short-sightedness and she was given spectacles at 7 years old, which she has been using ever since.

When a child knows their voice matters, they advocate for themselves.

On this occasion, Hope’s spectacles broke, and she reported it to the House parents and later to me. According to our policy, parents attend to child’s pre-existing medical problem, so we called her parents to inform them. Since we were about to close school for the holiday, we agreed that they will get her seen at an eye doctor during the school break while she’s home.

However, Hope became very persistent. She came to the counseling room and she
boldly stated that she needs to go see an optician. ‘My eyes are very sick,’ she said.

After discussing this with the house parents, we decided to take her to hospital as soon as we could because she seemed to be struggling. The optician did a few tests and realized her condition was beyond her scope and referred her to Lions Eye Hospital in Kiambu county for further treatment. After running some tests, the results showed that one of her eyes was completely dead, while the other needed urgent surgery to save it. If we had waited any longer, Hope could have lost sight in both her eyes.

The surgery to save the right eye needed 65,000 Kenyan Shillings (around $520 USD). Her parents were able to raise KSH 20,000. Canopy Life management decided to follow policy which would foot KSH 30,000. Since Hope’s eyes needed urgent intervention, we decided to loan her parents the remaining KSH 15,000 which they committed
to pay in installment in one year.

The other eye would need a transplant which would be fully facilitated by the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) where Hope’s parents were members. Hope had the laser surgery to save the right eye on Wednesday, October 5, 2022. It went as well as it possibly could have, and she resumed school on Tuesday of the following week. She recovered well!

Hope’s parents are in contact with the hospital to know when she can be scheduled for the left eye transplant, since is fully dependent on an eye donor to become available.

This story is one of our key success stories for the Homelife department and really for Canopy Life as a whole.

Hope’s story made us wonder…

° Would Hope have been able to build confidence to stop a teacher or a staff member on the corridors of her former school to explain her issue?

° If she did, would the teacher or staff member have taken any action and how swiftly?

° If she was still in that school, would the child have found her voice, and known that it mattered?

Hope’s ability to find her voice, present her case boldly and persistently, saved her sight.

We’re grateful to Linah for sharing this story with us and we’re encouraged by Hope’s story. We are still learning and always looking for ways to improve, but this reinforces the fact that the work that the Canopy Life Homelife team is doing is truly making a difference in the lives of our students.