Bibiane | The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ

Bibiane

Patient Bibiane and her family in Papua New Guinea. Photos: Vlad Sokhin.

Patient Bibiane and her family in Papua New Guinea. Photos: Vlad Sokhin.

“I feel sorry for my family and grandchildren having to look after me. My family do things like bringing me to the toilet and staying with me until I sleep. Before, when I could still see it wasn’t like this. I think, what’s wrong with me?" 

Meet Bibiane, a brave and determined woman from a remote village in Papua New Guinea. She's unsure of her age, but remembers soldiers visiting her village during the Second World War. Cataracts in both her eyes meant that Bibiane was forced to leave her home village and go to live hours away with her daughter. She was no longer able to grow her own food, move around, or take care of herself, making her completely dependent on her family.

Bibiane told us she was lonely and isolated in an unfamiliar environment:

“When I tried to cook food on the fire, the food got burned, because I couldn’t see anymore. I couldn’t see the house, the road, nothing.”

Unfortunately, Bibiane’s plight is all too common. Each day In Papua New Guinea, thousands of people are robbed of their sight and their ability to live independently. Papua New Guinea is desperately short of eye health care: in a country of 7.2 million there are just nine trained eye doctors. That’s like having one eye doctor for the entire South Island.

When Bibiane found out about The Fred Hollows Foundation clinic in Madang, she felt the first stirrings of hope that her sight could be restored.

“They told me ‘If you go to the doctor, they can clean your eyes so you can see again. So I dressed up in my best clothes and I went."

The surgical team at the clinic was able to restore sight in both Bibiane’s eyes, and what a transformation! Bibiane returned home a different woman – able to look after herself again, contribute to her household and share the songs and stories of her village with her grandchildren. She was overjoyed.

“Now I can see clearly. I am thankful for the doctor and the work he did. I can cook, go to the river, bathe, go to the toilet. That’s what makes me happy.”

No-one should have to be blind when there is a solution: a simple 20-minute operation.

If you're moved by Bibiane's story, make a donation today and help take surgical teams to remote places and train local eye care workers, giving them the tools and support to restore sight in their own communities.

What we can do

Help keep Fred’s dream alive.

4 out of 5 people who are blind in the developing world don't need to be. Routine treatment costing as little as $25 can restore sight and hope.


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