The Duchess of Edinburgh has made an unannounced, important trip to Ethiopia to mark World Sight Day.
Sophie, who serves as a Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), travelled to the African country at the request of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; she has been there for several days already and will continue her work through to World Sight Day on 12 October.
The royal arrived in the Tigray region to carry out engagements with UNICEF Ethiopia regarding conflict-related sexual violence and gender-based violence, two causes she champions awareness and prevention for.
Sophie visited the Sabacare IDP Camp to meet with displaced women and girls to learn more about their plights and how the aid they receive from UNICEF can empower them for the future.
During her visit, Sophie joined in a sewing activity, then travelled to the One Stop Center, an organisation in Ayder Hospital supported by UNICEF, to meet with the team and learn about the medical services and counselling they provide to women and girls in the area.
UNICEF Ethiopia tweeted about Sophie’s visit to the centre that she was “moved by the commitment and dedication of the team who are providing life-saving services for survivors of gender-based violence.”
The Royal Family website shared that Sophie “has travelled widely to bear witness to…testimonies” of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence.
Her visit concerning eye care will be in celebration of the work carried out by Orbis, an international organisation that is dedicated to eliminating trachoma in Ethiopia.
As Sophie’s visit to Ethiopia continues this week, she will visit a rural hospital and medical centre to learn how they perform sight-saving examinations and procedures, visit a school to meet young people and learn how they are taught to take care of their sight and meet with patients who have had their sight restored.
Sophie will also attend a conference where government, medical and charity workers will gather to discuss ways to work together to eliminate trachoma.
The royal has made vision care a key part of her royal work, having visited India, Malawi and Botswana, among other countries, to learn more about global practices and prevention for eye health and diseases.