Lin loves her grandfather as much as the sky. Instead of caring for his eight-year-old granddaughter, Aung was being cared for by her.
Myanmar is coming out of several decades of economic and political isolation. Many people there live in poverty, and hundreds of thousands live with avoidable blindness. One of them was Lin’s grandfather, Aung.
Lin and Aung have an extremely close bond. Aung is proud to say that Lin’s name means bright star in his local dialect and Lin says she loves her grandfather as much as the sky. Aung is Lin’s full time guardian, but his ailing eyesight forced him to stop work. Caring for his granddaughter was becoming harder and harder. Aung was worried Lin might not be able to go to school, which would limit her future potential.
Fortunately, Dr Ruit from Nepal’s Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology – one of the original founders of The Fred Hollows Foundation – had recently set up eye camps in Myanmar to help the country’s overwhelming number of blind people. Dr Ruit was a close friend and colleague of Fred, who together dreamt of ending avoidable blindness in developing countries.
Thankfully, Aung was able to be treated by Dr Ruit. While her grandfather was having his cataract operation, Lin performed play eye operations on some elderly patients. Lin wanted to be a nurse, so she carefully mimicked the procedure that had been described to her – the fixing of eyes, the lifting of bandages and the moment patients realised they could finally see again.
Aung is now working again and back to taking care of his granddaughter. Lin can now concentrate on her schooling and is getting closer to achieving her dream of becoming a nurse.
When Fred was alive, I studied with him at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney. I lived with his family and we worked alongside each other for many years. Over 20 years later, I am proud to say that our dream lives on.
- Dr Sanduk Ruit