Help Preserve Marthalyn Nyanneh's Eyes
The gift of eyesight is precious beyond value. Many of us take it for granted every day, but how many millions of dollars would we turn down in exchange for our eyes? This truth is one that 18-year-old Marthalyn knows all too well. 15 years ago, Marthalyn unknowingly ingested Sodium Hydroxide, a dangerous chemical compound that is often used to make local washing soap in Liberia. This chemical was intentionally left out by a friend of Marthalyn’ s mother in an attempt to poison the child.
Immediately after ingesting the chemical, then-three-year-old Marthalyn began to experience painful chemical burns inside her body and in an effort to wipe away her tears, she inadvertently applied some of the Hydroxide to her eyes. Soon after this, Marthalyn slipped into unconsciousness and a neighbor who had come to investigate the cause of her screams raised an alarm. Esther, Marthalyn’ s mother, who had left Marthalyn in the care of a young babysitter while she gathered wood for her palm oil business, heard the alarm and rushed home. Esther's worst fears were confirmed when she arrived at her home and found it full of neighbors trying to assess the situation and help her daughter.
Incomplete confusion of what had happened to her baby, Esther rushed Marthalyn to a nearby Catholic Hospital where she received medical treatment in her unconscious state for the next three days. By the grace of God, Marthalyn regained consciousness after those three days and began several months of treatments to eliminate the sores that had formed in her mouth, throat, and stomach. Her eyes, however, were never properly diagnosed or treated due to a lack of qualified optometrists in Liberia. Esther and Marthalyn went home happily praising God for saving her life and believing that all was well.
In 2005, two years after the poisoning, what Marthalyn described in a recent interview as being her "worst days" had begun. She started to experience an itching sensation in her eyes that over-the-counter eye drops did nothing to abate. Over time this itching worsened into a burning sensation that she describes as being "like a fresh new sore in the eyes". She also reported that the pain made it very difficult for her to sleep at night. Later still, her worst fears were confirmed when she began to notice that she was slowly losing her sight. Objects were starting to blur together and become fuzzy.
As her condition worsened, Marthalyn was forced to attend the Liberia boarding school for the blind where she obtained her elementary education with special honors as well as learned how to read and write in braille. After her time there, Marthalyn transferred to her current school, Ann Sandell. Marthalyn is very smart, and despite her disability, she was able to skip the 9th grade due to academic excellence.
Marthalyn was diagnosed with Multiple Corneal Dystrophies and she will need Corneal Transplants. If this procedure isn't done soon, Marthalyn could lose her eyesight completely. To make matters more complicated, this procedure cannot be done in her native nation of Liberia.
Today, Marthalyn's condition is worse than ever and she faces many challenges. Her mother's small palm oil business is not able to pay for her school tuition, provide reliable transportation, or even regular school lunches. She reports that she often goes to school hungry and returns hungry. Though she is an excellent student, she informed our team that she does not like the humiliation of being pulled aside from her classmates to be taught: "I really want to see on the blackboard like my other friends." Marthalyn says.
With just a small donation of $100.00, you can help a child in need to realize her dreams – transforming her life and the future we all share. We believe even in the darkest times; a brighter future is in the hands of those who give help and hope.