In the countries where we work, children who are avoidably blind don’t get much of a chance. Three quarters of children with blindness live in poverty and there are simply no services to help them. Many of these kids remain illiterate and often they face an early death.
But, for those who do get help through organisations like The Fred Hollows Foundation, the results – and reactions - are simply priceless.
So many of these kids were withdrawn, scared and depressed about their future. But after a routine operation, the joy, the curiosity and the possibility in their faces is obvious. Really, there’s nothing like the transformation of a child who can see again – or sometimes see for the first time ever.
We’ve captured how sight just lets kids be kids in this series of unforgettable photos.
Remember, share these photos and show your friends how amazing the gift of sight is.
1. Gossip girl
Seven-year-old Cam was blind for four years with cataract. Desparate to go to school and be with her friends, Cam went from shy and reclusive to giggly and playful after one short operation.
2. Slurp, slurp
There was no way her parents could afford surgery for little Hahn Chi, but she got help as part of a Fred Hollows Foundation program. Now she happily sings songs and slurps her favourite noodles without help.
3. Riding off into the sunset
Riding his bike and playing with others became more and more difficult for Hieu as his vision became blurry. But after his quick operation, she shone again as a bright, funny and cheeky boy.
4. Puppy love
If childhood cataract isn't treated early enough, it can be irreversible. Luckily, there was a different fate for H'Nhi who now plays like any other child.
5. Hungry for knowledge
When Hao (left) lost his sight he had to give up school and his father had to quit work to care for him, pushing a struggling family deeper into poverty. After Hao's operation, his eyes took a little while to heal, but now he's thriving back at school, curious as ever.
6. Telling secrets
Nine year old Eric (left) was one of the estimated 11,384 Rwandans who are blind. Every day, he suffered through hours of frustration and boredom. But now, he's finally getting to play with the other kids instead of sitting in silence by himself.
7. Playing, down by the river
Six months after Malo received eye surgery, this was the result. Here, we can see Malo at his first Tet festival (Vietnamese New Year) where he could see. His excitement was obvious as he played by the river with the rest of his family.
8. So much to do, so little time
Vann was missing out on the simple pleasures of childhood because playing outside and reading books were just too difficult without sight. Look at her now: the future is bright!
9. Having a little Faith
Of the 32.4 million people who are blind worldwide, 3 out of 5 are women and girls. But now Faith can spend her time running and playing - she isn't going to suffer the way so many blind girls will.
10. Laughing with them
Nabiritha used to navigate her way to the sound of her friends' laughter. But now that she can see she's laughing with them.
11. Curiouser and curiouser
The change in Kipar was incredible. He showed us how he could somersault on tree branches and play with a bow and arrow like his brother - but he also couldn't stop looking at his own reflection.
12. Take me out to the ball game
Craig and his family had to travel 14 hours to Alice Springs for his life changing surgery. Now, Craig can play football - which was his number one wish.
13. High fives all round
Wearing her best orange dress and gaping adult eye patches that almost covered her whole face, Cesaria peeked out from under her patches, giggling wildly because she knew, before anyone else, that she could see.
14. Life's good
Five-year-old John's mother tried using herbal medicine for her son's eyes, but it didn't do anything except hurt him. After visiting a Foundation-supported eye camp, John is free to enjoy his life without pain.