Meet Adam | The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ

Meet Adam

Adam is a young father who was desperately in need of sight-restoring surgery.

Adam is a young father who was desperately in need of sight-restoring surgery.

Special report by volunteer photographer, James Ensing-Trussell of Topic Photography

Vanuatu: James recently attended a Fred Hollows Foundation funded surgical outreach visit to Vanuatu where he met Adam, a young man who was desperately in need of sight-restoring surgery.

A young father's second chance at life

As a volunteer photographer for The Fred Hollows Foundation I've seen the miracle of sight first-hand: a grandmother crying tears of joy when seeing her grandchildren for the first time; a man proudly walking unassisted for the first time in years.

Adam with his wife, Alice, and their young son.These miracles are made possible with your support. Thank you.

On a recent trip to Vanuatu I witnessed something so special I wanted to share it with you - a young father's second chance at life.

I met 24-year-old Adam on a surgical outreach to the remote island of Malekula. Adam had been going blind from cataracts for years.

It must have been heartbreaking for him, waking up every day not knowing if he would still be able to see his family.

I noticed Adam's isolation straight away. He was trapped in a world of darkness, struggling to connect with his wife Alice and their young son.

"Adam told me being blind was like having a chain around his neck".

Adam's blindness, like that of so many others across the Pacific, was treatable. But he remained blind because he had no access to sight-restoring surgery.

Before he was blind

Adam told me that until recently he had worked for the local cooperative. Although he didn't earn much, it was enough to keep his family afloat. But eventually his sight became so bad he could no longer work.

Finally they had no choice but to leave their community and move in with Alice's family.

This was devastating for Adam. This proud young man lost not only the ability to provide for his family, but also his dignity and independence, relying on Alice to feed him and even take him to the toilet.

An eye nurse named Basil

Not long after, Adam met Basil, a Fred Hollows Foundation-trained eye nurse. Basil was going door-to-door finding people in need of eye surgery.

Basil told Adam that a Fred Hollows Foundation surgical team would soon be visiting.

This filled Adam with hope but, because the price of fuel in Vanuatu is so much higher than in New Zealand, the hour long journey would cost $10 - a huge sum of money for a family with no income source.

Over the next few weeks he just managed to scrape together the funds.

Basil calms Adam prior to his surgery.I was at the hospital when Adam and Alice arrived. Adam was obviously apprehensive, but thankfully Basil was able to put him at ease.

When Basil returned to Malekula in 2010 as the island's only eye nurse, he discovered how challenging his job would be.

The hospital was under-resourced, and the car he used to reach isolated local communities kept breaking down.

Basil told me the only thing that kept him going was the satisfaction he felt every time someone had their sight restored.

Fred Hollows once said "Don't ever ‘half do' a job, don't ever compromise. Slog away until you get the job done."

This perfectly sums up the dedication of eye care workers such as Basil in the face of challenging circumstances.

Listening to Basil talk about his experiences left me feeling frustrated but inspired. Inspired because despite some huge hurdles, Adam was at the hospital about to have the surgery he desperately needed. But frustrated because there are so many others like Adam who cannot get the simple surgery they need.

The moment they'd been waiting for

Adam's eye bandage is removed by an eye nurse.Finally the moment came to remove Adam's patches. Many of the other patients had come to know Adam well, and I could sense just how badly they wanted a good outcome.

I am happy to tell you that Adam is now able to see again out of both eyes. Thanks to supporters like you, Adam is no longer isolated in a world of darkness.

I immediately saw a change in both Adam and Alice. Adam began to emerge from his shell. When Adam was blind Alice had been distant - not knowing how to cope with his dependence on her. Now she began to respond to him with tenderness and patience.

I travelled home with them and had the joy of seeing Adam reunited with his young son. It's a moment I will never forget.

The challenges of the work

Back at home, Adam is surrounded by his family.If my trip to Vanuatu taught me anything it's that restoring sight in developing countries is no easy feat. But it changes lives and with your help many more people like Adam can have their sight restored.

I have seen for myself how The Fred Hollows Foundation works on the ground and can assure you that every donation makes a dramatic impact.

You can make the difference between a life of blindness and a life of hope.

Kind regards,

James Ensing-Trussell

All images courtesy of James Ensing-Trussell / Topic Photo

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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.