A young boy named Abushe has captured the attention of photographers all over the world thanks to his startlingly rare blue eyes.
Abushe’s eyes make him extremely unique in his home country of Ethiopia, however it’s actually down to a condition he was born with – known as Waardenburg syndrome – where a melanin gene mutation affects the pigment development of eye colour.
According to the United States National Library of Medicine, the condition is extremely rare and only affects around 1 in 40,000 people.
When Abushe was born, his parents initially feared he might be blind, but being desperately poor, they couldn’t afford to have him diagnosed or treated.
After realising Abushe could in fact see, his parents came to the understanding that his rare condition must be a ‘gift from God.’
The youngster first came to internet fame when he met French photographer Eric Lafforgue in early 2016, while Abushe was living in a small hut made out of hatch with his grandparents in Jinka, southern Ethiopia.
At this time, he was able to attend school and was provided with food from generous patrons of the restaurant located opposite the slum.
Unfortunately, a fire broke out in the slum, and while Abushe and his grandmother escaped without major injuries, it destroyed the few possessions the family had – except one.
Abushe’s prize possession was a red football, and his dream was to one day play among famous footballers. His favourite team is Barcelona, and he takes every opportunity to watch their games.
While most people are in awe of Abushe’s stunning eyes, he often gets teased by his peers, who sometimes call him cruel names like ‘plastic eyes’ and ‘monster’.
However, Abushe doesn’t let the bullies get him down and continues to do what makes him happy – playing football.
In October 2016, a travel blogger from Cape Town was on a 13-day expedition when he too saw Abushe and his stunning eyes.
— Mike Eloff (@LifeOfMikeZA) August 19, 2016
Mike Eloff says the blue-eyed child jumped on the foot railing of their vehicle and gave them a big smile.
Recalling the moment on his blog, Mike wrote:
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.
Our uniqueness is what makes us special, and Abushe certainly proves that.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.