A young Ethiopian boy has been capturing the attention of the internet and the world since 2019 because of the color of his eyes. Young Abushe, from Jinka, southern Ethiopia, was born with a condition known as Waardenburg syndrome, a mutation of the melanin gene that affects the pigment in the development of eye color.
Abushe’s condition is so rare that it affects only 1 in 40,000 people, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
At birth, Abushe’s parents were worried. They believed the child was blind when they first saw him. Due to lack of funds, they were unable to diagnose and treat him. Later, his parents understood that Abushe’s condition must have been the opposite, a gift from God.
French photographer Eric Lafforgue met Abushe in early 2016, when the boy was living with his grandparents in a wooden shack. Unfortunately, a fire broke out, destroying the house and leaving the boy with a scar on his forehead.
Abushe was able to save one thing from the fire: a red soccer ball that became his world. It is Abushe’s dream to play soccer for a living one day; he doesn’t let anything stop him.
Media have reported that Abushe is often mistreated by his young peers who don’t understand the reason for his condition. Some have nicknamed the boy with ”plastic eyes” and “monster,” while others have beaten him up.
Still, he has certainly made a big impact on the international scene, and has not been forgotten. Lafforgue shared an image of Abushe in February 2019, writing, “No one would pay attention to Abushe, but if you look into the glow of his eyes, their incredible magnetic color will stop you for a moment.”
The photo has had more than 6,000 likes on Instagram, and the comments were quick to state how beautiful Abushe is.