A world in which no person is needlessly blind or vision impaired.
We work to end avoidable blindness and vision impairment in the Pacific.
We advocate for the right of all people to high-quality and affordable eye care.
We strive for eye care to be locally-led and accessible to all. In doing this we continue Fred’s legacy.
The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ is now over 25 years old. Over these many years, donors have supported us faithfully, making a positive difference to restoring eyesight and eliminating avoidable blindness in the Pacific. My heartfelt thanks to every one of you who has been part of this journey. However, as much as we can all be proud of some fantastic achievements, there is still more to do.
As well as the “business as usual” aspects of delivering our services, this past year has seen us undertake some significant strategic initiatives to continue building more eye care capacity in the Pacific. This is all part of our aim to enable a long-term sustainable solution for the Pacific, by the Pacific, in the Pacific.
A key focus in the past year has been the $2.5 million rebuild of the Vanuatu National Eye Centre. This project, generously supported by the New Zealand Government and donors, was urgently required to support the return of Dr Johnson Kasso, a Foundation-trained eye doctor, and provide him with an appropriate operating facility in his home country. The new facility will go a long way to increasing Vanuatu’s eye surgery capacity from 200 to 800 per year. Very pleasingly, this will meet the target surgical rate to eliminate avoidable blindness in the country, as estimated by the World Health Organization.
With the new eye centre open and Dr Kasso on board, not only will Vanuatu’s eye surgery capacity dramatically increase, but the escalating number of diabetes eye care patients in Vanuatu will receive better treatment. As an organisation, we remain challenged by the impact in the Pacific of the scourge that is diabetes. To be successfully addressed, this will continue to require more infrastructure in the Pacific to allow regular screening and related services.
Looking forward, our next biggest strategic challenge is Papua New Guinea. The eye health challenges in Papua New Guinea are immense and complex. With just 18 per cent of its population occupying urban areas and close to 40 per cent living below the international poverty line, it is of little surprise that a recent survey found that 5.6 per cent of adults aged over 50 years are blind. The country has the highest rate of blindness in the Pacific and only 11 eye doctors, a long way off the 80 needed to meet its eye care needs, as recommended by the World Health Organization. We can’t address this alone and are working hard to align interested parties in a sustainable solution for Papua New Guinea.
Rest assured, we are working extremely hard as an organisation to do ourselves out of a job. But we are not there yet. As such my thanks to all of you; our partners, supporters and friends of Fred, for continuing to join us in this worthy cause.
We are immensely proud of the clinicians who graduate from our courses and we take every opportunity to speak of the amazing work they do. And rightly so. They are super skilled and talented eye doctors and nurses who perform ‘micro-surgery in the jungle’. The work they do is the only way to eliminate avoidable blindness in a sustainable way in the Pacific.
As the clinicians often acknowledge, they are fortunate that in Auckland and our in-country offices, they have exquisitely talented, ambitious, equally dedicated teams who have chosen to use their incredible skills to do whatever it takes to ensure the clinicians have the support they need.
Not even the wealthiest people just give their money away. It must be for a cause that people can believe in, and they usually have to be asked. The hours spent crafting newsletters and appeals, writing cards and emails, creating video clips and editing the website, answering phones and following up on donors and bequests, are all aimed at keeping our generous donors in touch with the incredible work being done. Raising the funds is as important to eliminating avoidable blindness as a clinician with a slit-lamp, examining a patient. In fact, it is often the generous donors who have provided the slit-lamp in the first place.
The accuracy of our financial reporting and the professionalism of our reporting to government, corporate, institutional and major donors, are key to the credibility of The Foundation, as are the clinical outcomes that we so carefully monitor, count and collate. Every aspect enables us to articulate a compelling case for how effectively we are developing and strengthening the eye care system in the Pacific.
Being able to fund and undertake outreaches and provide expensive equipment to remote locations; to tackle diabetes and to not shrink from the challenge that is Papua New Guinea; to be able to see opportunities for advocacy and coalitions; and to build impressive infrastructure that sets the standard, all takes time, funding, careful planning and a good mix of patience and tenacity. It is an essential part of the huge engine room of massive talent, energy and skill that is The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ!
Recently I reminded the graduates that we didn’t train them to stay at the Pacific Eye Institute. We trained them to join the great wave of graduates from previous years and to provide eye care leadership in their home country and hospital. I also assured them that they don’t go out alone. Our staff and our donors are with them every step of the way. Together, all the staff and our generous donors are keeping Fred’s vision of a world where no one is needlessly blind, alive.
Dr Duke graduated at the end of 2018 and returned to Tonga as a fully qualified eye doctor.
“Without the Fred Hollows scholarship, I would still be a Medical Officer, but they sponsored me and sent me to Fiji to train as an eye doctor. We owe a lot to The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ and the donors. They have been helping a lot, training and putting full-time eye doctors in islands across the Pacific."
When she got her sight back, she got her future back.
For tiny two-year-old Elizabeth, lying on a hospital bed in the Pacific, her surgery was life-changing. She could see properly for the first time. This moment marked the beginning of a normal childhood. Now Elizabeth can look at the world with wonder, recognise her mother, father and sisters and, before too long, will go to school.
Her mother put it very simply, “It’s such a big weight off our shoulders.”
Ngu was a strong, proud man, until the day cataracts took away his sight, his independence and his love of life. Unable to work, there were severe financial difficulties. Ngu's wife had to work far longer hours, while his daughter curtailed her schooling to help her father get through the day.
When Ngu came to the clinic, he was nervous and fearful. He prayed, “Just give me one chance… one chance to see again.”
The next day his prayers were answered. When the bandages came off, tears of relief streamed down his face. He looked to the sky and raised his arms. “Praise be to God," he whooped with delight.
Clerence has suffered from diabetes since she was a baby. As is often the case in Vanuatu, her condition was not diagnosed for many years. She has been continuously affected by infections for which she has not always been able to afford antibiotics. Amongst the consequences have been two amputations to remove her toes on both feet.
She also has dense cataracts, leaving her with seriously impaired vision. This is another symptom of her diabetes. Under-treated, her diabetes has led to a series of complications which has led to infections. When she has come to our outreaches, we have not been able to operate because of these infections.
Finally in February 2019, Vanuatu’s first permanent eye doctor, Dr Kasso, operated on Clerence. She can now see properly for the first time in years.
On 15 May 2018, Their Excellencies, The Governor-General of New Zealand, The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, GNZM, QSO and Patron of The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, and Sir David Gascoigne KNZM, CBE hosted a reception celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ.
The reception included a spotlight session hosted by Radio New Zealand and Pacific leaders, including Dr Telaite Biu, Director of The Foundation's Pacific Eye Institute and leader of the programme to combat diabetic eye disease, responding to the Pacific Diabetes Epidemic.
Both in their early 20s, Bonnie and Hannah share a goal to help cure avoidable blindness in the Pacific. They launched ethical make-up brand Indigo & Iris in 2017. Their mission statement was simple, that 50% of the profits from their first product, Levitate Mascara, would be donated to The Foundation.
In 2018, the donations from Indigo & Iris restored the sight of 250 eyes in the Pacific, completely transforming livelihoods. Every time the pair sell a mascara, they are helping someone gain their sight. “We think it’s beautiful that you can look in the mirror, apply Levitate, and know you’re playing a small part in helping someone see.”
Every Thursday without fail, the Kerikeri Woodchoppers meet to split wood that has been donated by people in the Northland community. Members of this group have been splitting wood for more than 10 years. Together, they’ve been able to raise more than $140,000 - saving the sight of over 5,600 people incredible!
The last thing you expect to stumble across in the small rural community of Takapau, Hawkes Bay, is an ancient weaponry museum, complete with a 1700s cannon and a trebuchet. This eclectic display is owned by avid adventurers Lex and Angela. To keep the museum going and put their passion to good use by supporting The Foundation, Lex and Angela ask for a $15 donation in-lieu of an entrance fee, doing an amazing job of helping us to end avoidable blindness throughout the Pacific.
The new eye centre opened at the beginning of 2019, the same time that Dr Kasso, a Foundation-trained ni-Vanuatu eye doctor, graduated and returned home to provide eye care services to his people.
These two important milestones will help to increase Vanuatu’s eye surgery capacity from 200 to 800 per annum, which will meet the country’s needs as estimated by the World Health Organization. it will also help to cater for the escalating number of diabetic eye care patients in Vanuatu.
The project was only made possible through the support of The Foundation’s amazing donors.
A joint campaign between The Foundation and the New Zealand Herald, saw $155,700 raised for the Vanuatu National Eye Centre. The campaign featured stories on people whose lives had been affected by the dramatic rise in diabetes-related blindness in the Pacific, such as Clerence.
The campaign initially aimed to raise $70,000 for an eye camera. The additional money was then spent on computers, electronic eye charts and building costs for the eye centre.
Fred said, “It is our job to do something about the disparity between nations. We discover our own humanity by helping others. Don’t ever forget that this is what it is all about.”
For over 25 years we’ve been growing and supporting a team of Pacific eye care professionals. To tackle the complex issues such as diabetes eye disease and delivery of eye care in countries such as Papua New Guinea, they need our support for 25 more.
To see some of the projects we have planned for 2019 and moving further into the future, download The Future Fund booklet: