When young mother Hoang Thi Ly learnt that her three-year-old daughter Lien’s sight was impaired because of cataract, she was torn apart.
Her heart was broken by the news, especially as she was pregnant with her second child. Ly was scared for Lien's future, and the difficult journey that lay ahead for her beloved child.
"I was thinking of how my little daughter would take all of that pain, emotionally and physically. I was aching thinking about what would be waiting for her. I wanted her to go to school, to have a good life and be happy," Ly said tearfully.
Ly and her husband are poor and work very hard to feed and house their family. It is difficult for them to have any spare money to save up and pay for treatment for Lien. At first, Ly thought this meant that her daughter would be blind forever, but she loved her daughter too much to give up so easily.
She started to search for help.
After months of trying, reward finally came for the young mother. She found out about a free child cataract surgery campaign, supported by the Childhood Blindness Prevention Project at Ha Noi Eye Hospital. The program is part of the ‘Seeing is Believing’ initiative funded by Standard Chartered Bank and managed by The Fred Hollows Foundation.
On a hot summer day, the very pregnant Ly took her little daughter all the way from Soc Son to the Ha Noi Eye Hospital - a three-hour journey on a hot, crowded bus, carrying with her enough food for the two of them for five days.
As the main bread winner of the family, Ly's husband had to stay in the village to work, to keep earning enough money to support the family while his wife and daughter were away at the hospital.
Having never traveled out of her village before, Ly was extremely nervous. But she was given strength through the hope that her Lien would be able to see again. She knew it would be the only chance she had to restore her daughter's sight.
The day of the operation finally arrived.
Ly could not stop staring at the operating theatre while her daughter was inside for the 20-minute long surgery. As each moment passed, she felt like she was undergoing the surgery herself.
When the doctor finally came out of the theatre and announced that the operation was successful, Ly's tension was released and tears rolled freely down her face.
"I am so happy. That's the most wonderful thing that has happened in my life, that my daughter can see again and have a good life," Ly exclaimed.
More than anyone else, Ly knew that her courage and determination had been instrumental in the fight for the happiness, education opportunities, and a better future for her daughter.
"Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! How grateful I am for what you have done for our family. I will be thankful forever," Ly said with overwhelming gratitude.
The sight brought back to Lien means a better future for her, and happiness for her whole family. And it will mean so much more when Lien meets her younger sister, due to arrive in a month, and can look upon her with clear eyes.
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