The Foundation has made waves on the surfing island of Siargao, southern Philippines. Local residents – from fisher-folk to surfers and older people – had their eyes checked at four eye screenings that were held across the island.
One of those eager to have her eyes checked was 84-year-old Constancia. Life hasn’t always been kind to Constancia; she has been widowed three times and now lives alone in a small wooden house. She receives support from a local co-operative and makes ends meet by cleaning houses and ocassionally some of the island’s resorts.
But Constancia has cataract in her right eye, limiting her ability to work and care for herself. She is looking forward to taking more cleaning jobs once she can see again.
84 year old Constancia. She has been widowed three times and now lives alone. She has had cataract in both eyes.
Although she can’t remember exactly when her vision started deteriorating, Constancia does remember crossing to the mainland 20 years ago, to have her left eye operated on.
But despite that successful operation, Constancia still practices local medicinal beliefs, extracting the sap of a special weed known locally as tawa-tawa. She drops the sap to her right eye, believing it will melt away the cataract.
Constancia with a tawa tawa weed. Constancia would extract the sap and drop it into her eye believing it will melt away her cataract.
Unfortunately, the herbal medication has done nothing to improve her condition and she is hopeful that The Foundation will help give her the sight-saving operation she needs.
Two of Constancia’s daughters are still alive but live far away. She visits them once in a while along with her 10 grandchildren and is very much looking forward to seeing them all clearly.
Initiatives like these allow eye problems like Constancia’s to be detected at the community level and then be referred to the district and provincial hospitals for treatment.
“A lot of people have been helped by The Foundation,” said Shalom Dapar-Sumaguila from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, one of The Fred Hollows Foundation’s field partners in The Philippines.
“We see heads of families who can now see and return to their jobs and earn again, and children who stopped schooling who can now study again. It’s really an accomplishment. It cannot be done by [our] Department alone, so we really need to converge with other organisations, like The Fred Hollows Foundation.”