Garage sale to save a little girl’s sight

Sydney nurse gets first-hand experience of the work of The Fred Hollows Foundation.

It took several months, a monster raffle and a market stall for Sydney nurse Lynette Dine to raise enough money for a trip to Vietnam. Now back in Australia, Lynette is on the fundraising trail once again, thanks to a chance meeting with a little Vietnamese girl who is going blind.

Lynette, a theatre nurse at Campbelltown hospital, met 10-year-old Bui Thi Kim Ngan outside the Da Nang Eye Hospital.

Ngan has bilateral cataracts but her family cannot afford the expenses associated with an operation. So Lynette and her Australian travelling companions, all supporters of The Fred Hollows Foundation, decided to raise the money.

‘Ngan lives 250km from Da Nang, her father is dead and her mother will have to leave her other children to travel by bus with her for the surgery,’ Lynette said.

‘She will be in hospital for two weeks, and after that we would like to buy her a new dress.

‘I will be running a garage sale, which I would like donations for*, and a sausage sizzle some time soon.’

Lynette went to Vietnam with The Fred Hollows Foundation’s ‘See the World Challenge’. Participants must pay for their trip via community fundraising – a means of publicising the work of the Foundation – with half the money raised going to the Foundation.
The Foundation has trained 322 Vietnamese doctors to perform modern cataract surgery, and supplies thousands of free intraocular lenses every year. It recently trained seven Vietnamese surgeons to perform sutureless surgery which further reduces the cost of operations and makes them more accessible to the poor.

Almost 100,000 Vietnamese now receive sight-restoring surgery every year, compared to the 100 cases conducted annually before the Foundation’s program started in 1992.

The Foundation also helped set up the Da Nang Eye Hospital. ‘The hospital doesn’t have all the equipment we in Australia have, but the Vietnamese staff are doing amazing work. The theatres appear to run very well,’ Lynette said.

‘It is wonderful to see the looks on the patient’s faces when they can see their children and grandchildren again.’

*To send donations to assist Ngan contact Lynette on (02) 4647 0151 or email stevedine@iinet.net.au

To learn more about the ‘See the World Challenge’ or to make a tax-deductible donation to The Fred Hollows Foundation, phone 1800 352 352 or visit www.hollows.org