THE Gympie community has gone above and beyond with the spirit of giving by providing a family the best Christmas gift of all: restoring sight to a single father and his two children.

This past year, Gympie has generously donated over $90,000 to the Fred Hollows Foundation, allowing them to reach Porlee, Blong and Shoua and thousands of other blind and vision impaired people.

Porlee received the best gift of all, the gift of sight after Gympie residents generously donated $90,000 to the Fred Hollows Foundation this year and pictured here are his two children Blong and Shoua. Photo: Fred Hollows Foundation
Porlee received the best gift of all, the gift of sight after Gympie residents generously donated $90,000 to the Fred Hollows Foundation this year and pictured here are his two children Blong and Shoua. Photo: Fred Hollows Foundation

Porlee, and his children Shoua and Blong, live in a small, remote village in Lao PDR.

Life is hard for local villagers, but for Porlee’s it’s been especially tough as both his children were born with blinding cataract.

“Our life was so difficult, I had no idea what to do,” Porlee said.

Porlee received the best gift of all, the gift of sight after Gympie residents generously donated $90,000 to the Fred Hollows Foundation this year and pictured here are his two children Blong and Shoua. Photo: Fred Hollows Foundation
Porlee received the best gift of all, the gift of sight after Gympie residents generously donated $90,000 to the Fred Hollows Foundation this year and pictured here are his two children Blong and Shoua. Photo: Fred Hollows Foundation

When Porlee heard about a Fred Hollows outreach eye camp that could help his children, he packed their bags and set off on the eight-hour journey to the hospital.

At the Provincial Hospital, Dr Phetsamone Indara examined Porlee as well, and discovered he also had cataract in both eyes.

“This was a very important case,” Dr Phetsamone said.

“The father and both his children had cataract. I was willing to operate, but only on five eyes – one eye for the father, as he needed to be able to look after his children.”

Porlee received the best gift of all, the gift of sight after Gympie residents generously donated $90,000 to the Fred Hollows Foundation this year and pictured here are his two children Blong and Shoua. Photo: Fred Hollows Foundation
Porlee received the best gift of all, the gift of sight after Gympie residents generously donated $90,000 to the Fred Hollows Foundation this year and pictured here are his two children Blong and Shoua. Photo: Fred Hollows Foundation

Because of Porlee’s tenacious love for his children, the skill of an ophthalmic surgeon trained by The Fred Hollows Foundation, and the people of Gympie who gave us the resources to reach Porlee’s family, their story has a happy ending.

Olympic swimmer and Ambassador for The Fred Hollows Foundation, Susie O’Neill, said that seeing the Gympie community coming together for a cause that’s close to her heart, is inspiring and heartwarming.

“Knowing that communities like Gympie still care about the extraordinary work that The Fred Hollows Foundation does, is incredibly moving,” she said.

“It makes me proud to be a Queenslander, seeing communities rally together for a vital cause such as restoring sight.”

Blong, Shoua and their father Porlee. Photo: Fred Hollows Foundation
Blong, Shoua and their father Porlee. Photo: Fred Hollows Foundation

Founding Director of The Fred Hollows Foundation, Gabi Hollows, extended her heartfelt thanks to the people of Gympie, saying Fred would be amazed by their compassion to help people who are blind.

“Without the support of people from Gympie, The Foundation couldn’t have helped so many people like Porlee and his beautiful children this year,” Mrs Hollows said.

“Our generous donors are at the heart of our Fred Hollows family, and they help us transform the lives of those living with avoidable blindness.

Blong and Shoua during the operation. Photo: Fred Hollows Foundation
Blong and Shoua during the operation. Photo: Fred Hollows Foundation
Blong and Shoua can now see after their operation. Photo: Fred Hollows Foundation
Blong and Shoua can now see after their operation. Photo: Fred Hollows Foundation

“I am so grateful to everyone who has supported our work this year, and the past 25 years; I extend my heartfelt thanks and wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.”

For more information about The Fred Hollows Foundation or to help restore sight, visit www.hollows.org or phone 1800 352 352.

Gympie Times


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