Fairfield residents' generosity gives gift of sight in midst of pandemic

Truat was blind in one eye as a result of cataract caused by trauma, but thanks to donations from Fairfield and the Fred Hollows Foundation, she is now able to see. Picture: Supplied
Truat was blind in one eye as a result of cataract caused by trauma, but thanks to donations from Fairfield and the Fred Hollows Foundation, she is now able to see. Picture: Supplied

The Fairfield community has gone above and beyond with the spirit of giving by providing sight-restoring surgery to people in rural Vietnam.

Over the past year, 30 people from the Fairfield became regular donors, allowing The Fred Hollows Foundation to reach thousands of blind and vision impaired people like seven-year-old Truat.

Truat has been able to continue her education and get back to playing with friends thanks to the skill of an ophthalmic surgeon trained by The Fred Hollows Foundation and generous donations from the Fairfield community.

Truat was blind in one eye as a result of cataract caused by trauma when she was very young.

She lives with her mum Thuyen, her baby sister and grandparents in a small, wooden house.

The family belong to the H're ethnic minority and until a few years ago, a ladder bridge was all that connected their rural village to the main road.

Thuyen was worried that with Truat's limited vision, she would not be able to continue her schooling.

"I'm very worried," she said.

"I worry that I will not be able to support my family; I worry about my daughter's eye; I worry that I will never have enough money to get her eye fixed."

Thuyen is completely dependent on her parents, Truat's grandparents, who earn less that $2 a day as farm labourers on nearby rice fields and paper tree plantations.

Truat's grandparents said that the income they earn is barely enough to support the family of five, let alone to pay for surgery that could restore Truat's sight.

"We can still work now, but we are worried about what will happen when we get older," they said.

"The whole family is affected by Truat's situation, everybody feels sad and helpless."

However, when a health worker visited the village and told Thuyen about a free outreach screening camp supported by The Fred Hollows Foundation, she was determined to take Truat there.

At the camp, the foundation told her they would support her daughter's surgery at Da Nang Eye Hospital - an eight hour, drive away.

Just 24 hours after her surgery, Truat's eye patches were taken off and she could see her mother clearly for the first time in years.

The Fred Hollows Foundation founding director Gabi Hollows extended her heartfelt thanks to the people of Fairfield, saying Fred would be amazed by their compassion to help people who don't need to go blind.

"Without the support of people from Fairfield, The Foundation couldn't have helped give sight back to so many people," Ms Hollows said.

"Our generous donors are at the heart of our Fred Hollows family, and they help us transform the lives of those living with avoidable blindness.

"I am so grateful to everyone who has supported our work this year, and the past 28 years; I extend my heartfelt thanks and wish you all a safe and happy holiday season."

For more information about The Fred Hollows Foundation, visit: www.hollows.org or call: 1800 352 352.