Isatou Mambureh's story

The Butterfly Lady, Banjul, The Gambia

Until a year ago, Isatou Mambureh worked as a farmer alongside her husband and daughters. They live in one of the more remote and distant parts of The Gambia in the village of Badibu Yindia, hundreds of kilometers from the capital of Banjul.

Now 60, she is a fan of brightly colored traditional clothing, and on the day we met her she was wearing an outfit adorned with a design of red and orange butterflies.


Isatou, though, can’t see the designs. For the past year, she has been blind from severe cataracts in both of her eyes. She could no longer work with her family in the fields or even cook her own meals. Asked about the effect of her sight loss, she was brief:

"It’s dark," she replied.

Only after relatives in the Banjul area told her about the regional eye center, did she learn that her blindness was a treatable condition and that she could receive care.

Her daughter Binta was her main caretaker for the past year, so she traveled with her mother to Sheikh Zayed Regional Eye Care Center, HelpMeSee’s partner hospital in The Gambia.

Just moments before she was about to enter the operating room for surgery, she already knew what an impact the surgery would have. The best parts? She will be able to cook again and spend time with her family-especially her 7 grandkids.


Isatou and her daughter Binta soon after they learned Isatou would receive surgery through the HelpMeSee campaign.