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.
One of the honours of a chairman’s role is thanking people for doing good. 2019 was an exceptional year for The Foundation and that is thanks to Team Fred; the many wonderful people involved in The Foundation intent on keeping Fred’s vision alive of eliminating avoidable blindness.
You are a member of Team Fred, along with our other donors, our many partners and collaborators, and our fantastic staff in New Zealand and the Pacific. The passion, the skills and commitment exercised everyday by this team is truly inspiring.
But a team cannot achieve the kind of results and impact outlined in this report without committed, skilled and passionate captains, coaches and leaders. This year, I acknowledge two very special leaders who served and guided Team Fred to realise the impact it now has.
Firstly, Sir Robert George Mappin Fenwick KNZM KStJ (5 May 1951 – 11 March 2020) who sadly lost his five-year dance with cancer. Rob was a trustee from 2007 and chaired The Foundation from 2010 till ill health forced him to step down in 2015. Rob was a true champion of the organisation in every respect and gave his governance expertise willingly and to great effect.
Secondly to our Executive Director Andrew Bell who left us in late March 2020 to concentrate on his health and family after being diagnosed with the early onset of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease. Andrew joined The Foundation in 2010 as Programmes Director and was appointed to lead the organisation as Executive Director in 2012. In his decade with the organisation, Andrew led improvements to all aspects of The Foundation in his execution of the board’s strategy resulting in a more effective, impactful, and sustainable organisation. And all in a humble, caring style that has grown and maintained a great culture within The Foundation.
Both Rob and Andrew have truly done Team Fred proud. Their legacy will continue.
It was a remarkable privilege to attend the funeral of Fred’s brother Monty last year. As is often the case, I learnt more about Monty through the tributes than I ever did by meeting him, and many of the stories included Fred.
When we hear about famous people it is easy to think they have always been famous. This was certainly not the case with Fred. The Hollows family were the consummate humble, hardworking Kiwi family. No special privileges or ceremony beyond a deep commitment to the local church. We were told that Fred was the only brother of four chosen to go to Palmerston North Boys' High as ‘he was the one with the brains’.
The story of Fred resonates with Kiwis because we can relate to these humble origins. I think what so many people like is that he never lost touch with his hard-working regional roots and it was his Kiwi ‘can do’ attitude that made him famous.
I often call our graduates the ‘sons and daughters’ of Fred. They are his heirs in so many ways. Humble beginnings. No airs and graces. Just dogged determination to eliminate avoidable blindness. Like most of us they will not be world famous like Fred. But they certainly deserve to be, as do you. Without your amazing support, they would not have trained as eye care specialists and returned home to do the wonderful work they do. It is not a stretch to say that you have helped to restore sight. As Fred famously said, ‘You don’t need to be an eye doctor to give someone back their sight’.
As the Chair has mentioned, I have unexpectedly had to resign from the job I have loved for 10 years for health reasons. I would like to record my sincere gratitude to the Board for entrusting me with the role. A big thank you to Gabi Hollows for her unwavering and enthusiastic support for my leadership. To the magnificent staff team in New Zealand and across the Pacific, I say a big ‘tenkyu tru’ for all your amazing efforts every day, to make Fred’s vision a reality. And finally to you, the donors, some I have had the pleasure of meeting but most I haven’t. Thank you so much for your faithful generosity which has made all of this possible.
Having been with The Foundation since it started delivering programmes in the Pacific in 2001, I cannot express the sense of fulfilment I feel when I look at all that has been achieved over the intervening years. From establishing the Pacific Eye Institute in Fiji, the region’s first ever training centre for Pacific eye health workers, to the incredible milestone we achieved last year of having at least one local eye doctor in the key seven countries where The Foundation works, all supported by trained eye nurses. The sense of progress and achievement is immense. One of the dreams of Fred Hollows was to train effective, self-sustaining eye care specialists.
However, as Medical Director, I feel The Foundation still has much work to do. This includes ensuring our eye doctor and nurse graduates are supported in the challenging medical environments that they are returning to, as well as tackling the vast eye care challenges faced in Papua New Guinea, a country with one of the highest rates of avoidable blindness in the world.
In the spirit of Fred Hollows himself, I am looking forward to facing future challenges head on and helping to contribute and guide The Foundation towards its ultimate goal of ending avoidable blindness in the Pacific.
Dr Carole Poloso graduated at the end of 2019 and returned to Solomon Islands as a fully qualified eye doctor.
"In my lifetime I wanted to be able to do my best and, at the end of it, be satisfied that I have done as much as I can with what I have been given. I have been privileged to be given this opportunity by The Foundation to serve my people and to do so with the late Fred Hollows’ non-discriminatory passion for humankind."
For 20-long-years, Metuisela had no vision in his left eye, and then a growing cataract in his right eye left him with no sight at all. Metuisela prayed he could be helped, "I am still strong, I want to keep working. I need to provide for my family." With no chance of regaining sight in his left eye, all of Metuisela’s hopes were reliant on an operation to remove the dense cataract in his right eye.
Finally, Metuisela’s prayers were answered. One of our doctors was able to perform a sight-restoring surgery. When the nurse peeled off his eye patch, Metuisela looked straight at the eye chart ahead and said with tears of joy, "I can see that, I can read it!"
A once vital and fit man, Karlpat’s diabetes was diagnosed in 2014 after a fever led to him collapsing into a diabetic coma. When he awoke, he could not use his arms or his legs. Four years later, things have improved. He can stand with the help of a frame.
Sadly, his eyes have not fared so well. The undiagnosed diabetes had damaged his retina. Without treatment there was a very real danger of total blindness. Tragically, diabetes eye disease cannot be cured, however, vision loss can be slowed with treatment.
To date, Karlpat has had two laser treatments. These have preserved his sight for the time being, but more treatment is almost inevitable.
After a cyclone damaged Bethe’s home in Vanuatu, she was making repairs when a flax-like leaf slashed her face, perforating her eye. Soon Bethe's eye became infected and she was unable to see out of it. She was forced to leave her job as a teacher.
For six weeks, Bethe endured agonising pain while she waited to attend our Outreach clinic. Our doctors were shocked — the infection in Bethe’s eye was threatening to spread to her brain with possibly fatal consequences, so Bethe’s eye had to be removed. While this was a significant operation, it meant Bethe’s life was out of danger.
Bethe may have partially lost her vision, but thanks to the eye doctors of The Foundation, her life was saved.
Some of our staff members were among the guests at a special reception hosted by Her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace in October 2019. The event marked the completion of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust. The Trust works with partners throughout the Commonwealth to eliminate avoidable blindness and has been supporting the diabetes eye disease programme of The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ since 2015.
We were the recipients of a collaboration, between award-winning chef Michael Meredith and The Collective Yoghurt Company, called ‘Chefs for Good’. The collaboration saw a line of gourmet yoghurts created by Kiwi chefs with proceeds going to charity. Michael chose The Foundation as his charity of choice for his Pacific-inspired yoghurt.
“The incredible work that The Foundation is doing really connects with my heart. I grew up in Samoa with an aunty that had cataracts and witnessed first-hand the negative impact that it had on her and how important eyesight is to everyday existence. The Foundation creates hope and opportunities that are life-changing for many people and their families.”
Michael also met our eye doctors and nurses at an Outreach clinic on the outer Samoan island of Savai’i. Witnessing first-hand what our team was doing to restore sight, Michael cooked a delicious Pacific feast to thank them for their amazing work.
We launched our first ever Humanity Awards to celebrate outstanding young people. The award was created to recognise a child who is following in the footsteps of Fred Hollows — a young person who strives to make the world around them better for others. We received over 70 nominations and our winner was Sari Moore from Nelson Central School. In Sari’s nomination, submitted by her teacher, it was apparent Sari has the biggest heart, showing empathy, integrity and compassion for others. Our charity partner Specsavers donated $5000, allowing Sari to allocate these funds to a Fred Hollows Foundation NZ Pacific programme of her choice, to help us end avoidable blindness!
Over the past seven years, Ricoh has held an annual fundraising raffle raising over $100,000 to help end avoidable blindness in the Pacific. Ricoh has a philosophy for a sustainable society which is at the heart of their corporate values and approach to doing business.
"We are proud to be partnering with The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ to ensure more people can see in the Pacific."
Their goal is to deliver high-quality eye care services to people not only in urban centres, but also far-flung villages.
However, the medical environments in which our eye specialists work is a world away from those enjoyed by their peers in this country. Our eye doctors do not have the facilities, the equipment, the supplies or the support systems found in New Zealand. This requires them to be highly innovative and endlessly resourceful; but they also need our support, and that is where our Graduate Programme steps in.
The programme ensures our eye doctors and nurses have the ongoing training, equipment and support they require to continue to meet the challenges in front of them and successfully help their communities.
It is estimated at least one billion people are blind or visually impaired simply because they can’t access eye care. Many of our Pacific neighbours are suffering this exact fate. We are working hard to change this.
The 2020 Future Fund booklet details how we plan to unleash Fred’s spirit of innovation though a number of key projects, making significant progress in achieving Fred’s vision of a world where no one is needlessly blind.