Hepi | The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ


Hepi and her pastor husband at home following her cataract surgery.Hepi is the pastor’s wife in a Tongan village on the remote eastern side of Tongatapu. She told us that her blindness made her feel incomplete. For years she felt unable to fulfil the duties she holds as pastor’s wife. Her husband was even considering leaving his position in order to look after her. Worst of all for Hepi, she had never seen her nine-year-old adopted daughter. Hepi told us, “I can’t iron my daughter’s clothes or braid her hair.”

Our outreach in Tonga was a typical one. Numerous patients, each with a devoted family member, sat in near silence, anxious about the outcome.

Hepi's blindness made her feel incomplete.

It’s a far different atmosphere on the following day, when each patient returns to have their bandages removed. Once-dim eyes sparkle with happy tears, voices are raised in excitement and joy, hugs and handshakes are common…but before the surgery, the waiting areas are quiet. Hepi’s hands again twisting in her lap, an unspoken symbol of her feelings of helplessness.

The surgery was over in just twenty minutes, and Hepi went home that night to her family. She tried to comfort Silivia who cried when she saw her mother’s bandage.

Hepi sees her daughter Silivia for the first time - a joyful moment.

The following day, all the tension and fear proved worth it. Hepi’s bandage was peeled off and a brilliant smile dawned. “I can see the light!”

Our generous supporters helped Hepi see again and gave her back her life. With her bandage removed, Hepi went from house to house in her village, waving to old friends and rejoicing at her blessings. When her daughter came home from school and Hepi saw her for the first time, she remarked, “what a beautiful girl”. Everything was now complete.

Watch TVNZ's 20/20 story about our outreach to Tonga

Learn more about our sight-restoring work in Tonga

Donate today and help more people like Hepi see again

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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