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Why I donate 10% of my income to the Fred Hollows Foundation
For $25 I can restore someone's sight
When I donate to Fred Hollows Foundation my money goes to a non-government organisation which seeks to eradicate avoidable blindness in developing countries and to improve the health outcomes of Indigenous Australians.
It's non political and, most importantly to me, it's totally secular
Millions of people in developing countries go blind due to lack of access to simple treatment and millions more stay blind due to lack of access to simple surgery.
Often all it takes is a relatively simple 20 minute operation, which can cost as little as $25.
For $25 I can restore someone's sight
"Having a care and concern for others is the highest of the human qualities."
~ Fred Hollows
There is an alarming disparity between the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians and other Australians.
Indigenous Australians have fewer opportunities to maintain and improve their health and life situation than non-Indigenous Australians. They don't have the same access to employment, housing, medical services and education, nor are they equally engaged in our social and political systems.
Those who live in remote and isolated areas suffer the greatest disadvantage.
The Indigenous Program, funded by The Fred Hollows Foundation works to improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people in some of the most remote communities..
Since 1999, the work has focused on tackling the social determinants of poor health and supporting the work of Aboriginal-controlled organisations and health services. The Foundation runs interrelated projects including nutrition, literacy, eye health, aural health, womens' health and workforce training.
While there has been some improvements to Indigenous health over recent years, the disparity remains. It doesn't have to be this way and it has to change!.
The Fred Hollows Foundation addresses the underlying causes of health inequity.
10% of my income goes to continue the work of Fred Hollows in treating avoidable blindness and improving indigenous health.
Blindness is a significant public health issue in Cambodia. Over 160,000 people are blind and an additional 20,000 become blind each year. The main cause of blindness is cataract, which can be treated by a simple 15 minute operation at an average cost of $25 (AUD$35).
The Fred Hollows Foundation has worked in Botswana, Bougainville, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Lesotho, Malawi, Samoa, Soloman Islands, Swaziland, Thailand, Tonga, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Case Study - Vietnam
Nguyen Thi Mai, Binh Tu Commune, Quang Nam province..
Mai is 73 years old. When she was 28, her husband died, leaving her the sole provider for their three children. Mai raised her children with daily earnings from her rice field, and was happy as they grew up, got married and built their own families. And Mai was delighted to be a grandmother.
Two years ago, Mai's eyes turned completely blind.
Mai's main caretaker is her son, Phan, who at 49 has his own family to support. Phan heard about free cataract operations for the poor initiated by the Fred Hollows Foundation.
Mai says that when The Fred Hollows Foundation staff visited her,
"I could only hear my grandchildren playing around for the last 2 years. You know, I burst into tears when they came here. Right here, I burst into tears."
Mai now has sight restored in one eye and vision is returning to the other.
Asked about her future, she drew a simple picture, "When I come back home, I will call on my neighbours. It's been a long time I haven't seen or talked to them. When I come back home, I'll take my grandchildren to school and I'll take a walk with them around the village".
Regaining sight was just a simple thing, with the help from The Fred Hollows Foundation.
The Fred Hollows Foundation has established a five-year Western Province Blindness Prevention Programme to eliminate avoidable blindness in the Rubavu District of the Western Province in Rwanda.
Fred, the Humanitarian
Fred Hollows was a humanitarian in the fullest sense of the term: someone who acknowledged the limits imposed on us by nature but refused to accept the limits we impose on ourselves.
He understood the term "aid" in the only way it makes any sense, as helping people overcome the obstacles that now stop them from standing on their own feet.
When he wanted to aid overseas cataract victims, he didn't organise a one-off charity contribution, he set about helping the Eritreans and the Nepalese and the Vietnamese to produce their own lenses, without concern for the profit rates of Western companies.
Every humanitarian, of any persuasion, would have to agree with that.
Three out of four people who are blind don't have to be. They are blinded by poverty alone.