ANNE CRAWFORD

Fred Hollows Foundation

Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF)

I was sent to Nepal in 2002 as part of The Age/Sydney Morning Herald-Fred Hollows Foundation collaboration for the book Through Other Eyes, using three months’ long service leave. I was based at the Tilganga eye centre in Kathmandu, Nepali-run and set up with help from Fred Hollows, the famous, somewhat larrikin, Australian eye surgeon. Hollows had a Nepali soul mate, Dr Sanduk Ruit, who runs Tilganga. The two men shared a love for ophthalmology, compassion for the underpriviledged,  a fondness for whisky, and healthy disregard for bureaucracy. I took photos for Tilganga, for the FHF in general, an exhibition, and also wrote a chapter for Through Other Eyes and a newspaper story or two.

Nepal was a glorious, exhausting, sometimes frustrating, heart-warming and joyous life experience for which I am still grateful.  Watching someone regain their sight from blindness is profoundly touching but the transformation of one woman in particular – an elderly woman who wore her wedding dress to surgery at an eye camp – from being timid, withdrawn and helpless to exuberant and mobile was extraordinary. Like someone had switched a light on in her life.

I was constantly struck at the groundswell of goodwill and energy generated by the team at Tilganga (and the FHF people back here). They’d been given a kickstart by FHF, and some ongoing funds, but it was clearly the local know-how and dedication that ran it.  As it should be!

Any profits made from FHF photos bought from this website go straight back to the foundation, so you’ll be helping their work too.

The FHF website: www.hollows.org.au