Yarra Ranges community helps restore eye sight

John carrying Samuel.

By Jed Lanyon

The Fred Hollows Foundation has thanked the people of the Shire of Yarra Ranges, whose generosity helped deliver 929,106 eye operations and treatments in 2018.

The Yarra Ranges community donated over $554,000 throughout the 2018 financial year which helped The Fred Hollows Foundation train 59,207 eye surgeons, nurses, community health workers and teachers to continue Fred’s legacy of restoring sight for the world’s poorest people.

One of the patients who were helped as a result of the contributions was eight-year-old Samuel from rural Kenya, who had relied on his twin brother John his entire life.

A statement from the Fred Hollows Foundation said Samuel was one of more than 8000 children in Kenya who are needlessly blind and was among those who received sight-saving surgery thanks to the foundation.

Samuel and his twin brother John have been inseparable since birth. But there is one thing that always separated them in that Samuel couldn’t see.

John always took care of Samuel. He led Samuel hand-in-hand as they walked to school each day and sat next to him in class to write notes so his brother wouldn’t fall behind.

John would always pick Samuel up when he fell, pull him away from the fire when he got too close and helped him at school when he couldn’t see the blackboard.

Gabi Hollows, founding director of The Fred Hollows Foundation, thanked the community for its support and encouraged people to give whatever they can to help keep Fred’s vision alive.

“I would like to thank each and every person who has helped us change the lives of many millions of the world’s poorest people who are living with avoidable blindness,” Ms Hollows said.

“There are still 36 million people in the world who are blind and four out of five of them don’t need to be. Their blindness is preventable or treatable.

“Fred once said, ‘The alternative is to do nothing and that’s not an alternative’. So I hope people will help us continue Fred’s inspiring work.”

CEO of The Fred Hollows Foundation Ian Wishart said the organisation’s results demonstrate its commitment to creating long-term and sustainable solutions for those trapped in poverty by avoidable blindness.

“The number of people who are blind is set to triple over the next 30 years, so it is crucial we continue our sight-saving work,” Mr Wishart said.

“One of the most effective ways to do this is by training local doctors, nurses, community workers and teachers in eye health, in the places where they are most needed, just as Fred did.”

To help The Fred Hollows Foundation continue its work, donate at www.hollows.org.

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