Health volunteer says hard work pays off with gratitude from the community

Woman examines another woman's eye
Written by Caroline Wagner, published on May 3, 2022 Sign up for eNews

Salina, a community health volunteer in Kenya, is proud to be making a difference in her community. 

The mother of six, who also has several grandkids, lost her husband several years ago, leaving her to support her burgeoning family on her own. She continued farming corn for income, but low grain prices meant she was barely able to sustain her family. 

When the government started recruiting health volunteers in her village, Salina’s name was put forward because of her involvement in community work. She was excited about the prospect, but worried when some community members pointed out her lack of a formal education.  

Eventually, she got the position and started training with Operation Eyesight as a community health volunteer. Now she does door-to-door eye health screenings throughout her region in Elgeyo Marakwet County.  

The stipend she receives from Operation Eyesight helps her feed her family and keep her kids in school. She looks forward to sending her daughter to college soon. 

Salina examines the eyes of a child in Elgeyo Marakwet County, Kenya.
Photos: Patrick Wainaina, MIS Officer

At 56, Salina admits the job is not an easy one – she puts in long hours and walks long distances to complete her work. But she adds that her passion for helping people in the community keeps her going.  

She says that she was surprised one morning when a local cattle herder showed up on her doorstep at 6 a.m. He told her he was having trouble seeing, but couldn’t get to the hospital to have his eyes checked. She took a look and diagnosed him with cataracts, and promptly got him in for free treatment at a nearby Operation Eyesight surgical camp. She says whenever she sees the young man around town, he thanks her for her help. 

Salina says she’s also excited about everything she’s learning about health care.  

“The biggest benefit,” she explains, “is that I have been equipped with knowledge on how to take care of my health and that of my family.” 

She adds that despite the initial naysaying, her work has helped raise her profile as a trusted community member and that people now come to her to discuss issues the village is facing.  

Every year, Operation Eyesight trains hundreds of women as health workers and leaders in their own communities. This year on Mother’s Day, help moms like Salina support their families by making a donation or purchasing an eCard for your own mother, wife or another amazing woman in your life.