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A Christmas message to you, from Dr John Szetu, our Medical Director.

I have great pleasure introducing myself – I am Dr John Szetu, Medical Director for The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ.

As we approach the end of the year, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. It means so much to me, and my team of eye doctors and nurses, to know that kiwis like you support our work.

We thank you every time we restore sight to a patient who cries with joy when they see their loved ones again. Our students thank you every day they sit in their class. Our eye doctors thank you when they use medical equipment delivered because of your donations. Our eye nurses thank you every time they dispense a pair of glasses to a person who thought they were blind and can now see the beautiful world we live in.

As we head to Christmas, my team in the Pacific continue to work hard to restore sight to as many people as possible. However, our thoughts are very much with our eye team in Samoa, who have been called in to help with the devastating measles outbreak. This is a trying time for our team but they remain resilient and are focusing their efforts into bringing this epidemic to an end.

Thanks to our supporters our Foundation-trained team are bringing their medical expertise to help lessen this crisis, as well as restoring sight to people who are needlessly blind. This Christmas your donation will make a real difference in Samoa.

The difference your donations made for Simalo, the young woman whose story we recently shared with you. When we first met her, she was four months pregnant with her first child and she had been blinded with cataracts in both eyes for over three years.

Thinking she would never be able to care for her child and watch them grow, Simalo felt helpless, powerless. Her life felt out of her hands.

“It’s like a light bulb has been switched on and I can see a whole new world,” she said.

But Simalo was lucky, she received two successful operations to remove cataracts from both her eyes, changing her life forever. When her bandages were removed, tears of joy ran down her face.

In a wonderful end to this story, I am pleased to share the news that Simalo has had a heathy baby boy who will enjoy his first Christmas with his mother.

Below you can watch an interview with myself and Foundation-trained Dr Lucilla Ah-Ching Sefo, the only eye doctor in Samoa, who is leading our team’s response to the measles crisis. The interview shares how far we have come and the challenges we still face in delivering eye care in the Pacific, and why there is still more work to be done.

Sadly, there are still many people in the Pacific who are needlessly blind and living in darkness. They have the right to sight. Together you and our eye teams can make the difference by giving them a chance to see again.

Support our eye teams to help create more happy outcomes like Simalo’s.

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