EYESIGHT RESTORED: Five-year-old Night Baeni with her parents Stephen and Deborah from Kenya.
EYESIGHT RESTORED: Five-year-old Night Baeni with her parents Stephen and Deborah from Kenya.

Ballina locals help change little girl’s life

THE Ballina Shire is renowned for its generosity in times of need for those less fortunate.

The Fred Hollows Foundation has been receiving regular donations from more than 121 people from the Ballina Shire during the global pandemic.

Founding Director Gabi Hollows said the unwavering support and generosity from the community was inspiring and a reminder of the true-blue Australian spirit that Fred loved so much.

"This certainly is our toughest year; trying to restore sight to people who are needlessly blind during a global pandemic," she said.

"To see the Ballina Shire region's continued generosity warms my heart and reminds me of the true, altruistic Australian spirit that has kept The Foundation alive for 27 years.

"Thank you, Ballina Shire, for continuing The Foundation's work and keeping Fred's dream alive. I am truly grateful."

Five-year old Night Baeni, from Kenya, is one patient that the Ballina Shire community has helped.

When her parents learnt their daughter had cataracts in both eyes, the family was devastated and Night's dreams of becoming a teacher were crushed.

"Night follows the other children to school, and I have to bring her back because when she goes, she falls over," Mrs Baeni said.

Their lives changed when a health worker, trained by The Fred Hollows Foundation visited their village and told them Night could get help.

Night and her father, Stephen took the five-hour journey to the Sabatia Eye Hospital where, after the procedure Night's eye patches were lifted and, much to her delight, she could see again.

Mr Baeni was overwhelmed with gratitude as the family could not afford the surgery.

"But because of you, my daughter is able to see, and she is so happy," Mr Baeni said.

Without funding and access to eye care services, the number of people who are blind is set to triple from 36 million to 115 million over the next 30 years.

To combat this, The Fred Hollows Foundation is training local doctors, nurses, community workers and teachers in eye health, in the places where they are most needed.

To help The Fred Hollows Foundation continue its work, donate at www.hollows.org, call 1800 352 352.