Facebook Messenger is usually a tool used to organise a boozy weekend, sort out times for a local cinema trip, or to just rag on your mates in some closed chat group banter. However, Facebook Messenger to some is a lot more than that.

Nine year old Polok from Bangladesh knows this all too well. Polok’s eyesight was saved after his cousin used the world’s most popular messaging service to contact Sightsavers.

Polok had very low vision, and it hindered everything he did during his day. He was diagnosed with Bilateral Cataracts, which is basically a cataract on both eyes, not a great position for a nine year old to be in.

Polok’s cousin looked to Facebook for help and stumbled around Sightsaver’s Facebook page. Sightsavers is an international sight and disability charity based in Sussex in the UK that help people with limited eye sight. The operation would be covered by Sightsavers, as it’s quite expensive for people living in Bangladesh.

Sisan Hossain, photographed in Kushtia district, Bangladesh. Hossain connected his visually impaired cousin, Polok, with Sightsavers after learning about the cataract program through Facebook.

After the cousin got in touch, Sightseers were insanely quick, dispatching a member of the field team to Bangladesh to help Polok. Within days the family saw themselves within Khulna hospital, which was quite a journey from their home. It was here that Polok was offered surgery to remove the cataracts.

 

 

Polok in the days after the operation saw his sight return, enabling him to see his mother clearly, and also aid in chores around the home. His parents recognised a new breath of life in their son.

Polok Islam, 9, prepares to undergo cataract surgery at the BNSB eye hospital in Khulna, Bangladesh.

Polok’s father commented; “Before I asked Polok to bring something over and he would just search. Now he can get the thing – we tested him, he brought it without any problem. We held fingers up and he could count them. Before he used to fall down, and in the last two days he hasn’t fallen down.” He continued “We have hope for his future” The family will soon take Polok for his second cataract removal.”

This is an exciting example of how Facebook Messenger is being used internationally, and is connecting people with the help they need like never before.

9 year old Polok Islam has his eyes tested by his father Tarikul at home in Salikupa, Bangladesh, days after undergoing cataract removal surgery.

You can see more from Sightsavers on their website.

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Stef Murphy

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