Abushe is from Jinka, in southern Ethiopia. His eye color is a very defining feature of his, as it’s very rare to find a boy with naturally blue eyes in Ethiopia. The darkness of his skin helps to accentuate them even further, making for a very standout image that has captured the world’s imagination.
The young boy was born with something called Waardenburg Syndrome, a condition in which a melanin gene mutation affects the pigment in the development of eye color. According to the United States National Library of Medicine, the condition is very rare and it’s something that is estimated to affect 1 in 40,000 people. Because of his condition, Abushe has been born with such startling blue eyes.
Abushe is 8, he lives in south Ethiopia, i met him in front of a bank. His blue eyes were just incredible. I came back…Posted by Eric Lafforgue on Monday, March 21, 2016
When Abushe’s parents first saw his eyes, they were left in shock and worried that this meant that he would be blind. Since they’re very poor, they were not able to have him diagnosed or treated. But over time, they came to understand that his condition was rare, and as they believe, a “gift from God.”
French photographer Eric Lafforgue first met Abushe in early 2016, when the boy was living in a small wooden hut made out of hatch with his grandparents. There, he was able to attend school as well as benefit from food provided by generous patrons from the restaurant just opposite the slum. But then a fire broke out. Abushe and his grandmother escaped the fire with only a minor burn to Abushe’s forehead.
The fire destroyed everything the family had, except for a red soccer ball. It was extremely precious to Abushe, as his dream is to one day be a famous soccer star. Abushe idolizes the Barcelona team. He is an avid fan, watching their games whenever he can. His favorite player is Messi. Abushe told Lafforgue, “Messi is just like me. He is not like the others!”
Abushe doesn’t have an easy life. He is often teased and ridiculed by his peers for his appearance. They’ll often call him hurtful names such as “plastic eyes” or “monster,” and sometimes, they’ll even punch or hit him.
While the taunting is cruel, Abushe won’t let it affect him, focusing on his dream of one day playing for Barcelona. He has the promise and talent within him, and he’s determined to be able to provide for his family someday.
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Abushe is an Ethiopian boy suffering from Waardenburg syndrome providing him a very bright blue eyes pigmentation. At school, Abushe often gets annoyed by other kids because of his eyes, calling him “Plastic eyes". Jinka, Omo valley , Ethiopia #Ethiopia #jinka #omovalley #Waardenburg #ig_mood #ethiopie #travelblog #traveldestination #abushe #plasticeyes #infinity_shotz #people_infinity #blueeyes #smile #ig_shotz #featureshoot #bbctravel #remotexpeditions #africanceremonies #Эфиопия #エチオピア اثيوبيا# @smile__project #TagsForLikes #photooftheday #picoftheday #bestoftheday #todayinaddis #Etiyopya #etiopia
Back in October of 2016, a travel and adventure blogger/photographer based in Cape Town, Mike, was starting a 13-day expedition with Kingsley Holgate and his team of adventurers when he encountered Abushe, who jumped on the foot railings of their vehicle, charming them with his radiant smile and mesmerizing blue eyes.
As Mike described in his blog, “He had blue eyes like I’ve never seen before in my life! They were like two tiny planets, with the friendliest face to go with them.”
Mike chatted with Abushe and took a few picture of him. Before departing to continue his journey, Mike asked the translators to pass on this message: “Tell Abushe that no matter what anyone says about his eyes, or about him being abnormal, he should always remember that he is really special and his eyes are a gift.”
But the blue-eyed boy is far from being forgotten. On the 15th of February 2019, Lafforgue shared an image of Abushe to his Instagram, and wrote, “No one would pay any attention to Abushe, but if you catch a glimpse of his eyes, their incredible magnetic colour will stop you in your tracks.”
The picture gathered over 6,000 likes and captivated social media users.
You can watch a video of Abushe here:
Featured Image Credit: YouTube Screenshot | Luis Jose