The Fred Hollows Foundation marks its 20th anniversary today. The late Fred Hollows established The Foundation on September 3, 1992. 

Here are a few words from The Foundation’s Founding Director Gabi Hollows, who would like to thank all the Australians who have supported The Foundation over the past two decades:

Just as The Fred Hollows Foundation has grown up over the past 20 years, so have my children, and their lives have formed yardsticks for the organisation that took their father’s name.

My daughter Anna-Louise was born the year that Nepalese eye surgeon Dr Sanduk Ruit came to stay in our home—when he and Fred made plans that would ultimately bring modern eye surgery to Kathmandu and save the sight of millions.

When my oldest daughter, Emma, was about to sit an exam in year six, I remember a small but significant incident at The Foundation’s office. I walked into the storeroom and accidentally kicked a box of intraocular lenses that had been sent all the way from Eritrea. That same box was about to be sent to Vietnam, where the lenses would save the sight of hundreds of people.

That box of lenses represented the core of Fred’s plan—that developing countries could make affordable and high-quality lenses and export them to other developing countries.

Each lens is, quite simply, a little piece of magic.

The saddest thing was that Fred never lived 
to hold a lens in his hand and say they had been made in one of the poorest countries of the world.

But Fred would be proud that The Foundation was able to fulfill his dream of establishing lens factories in Nepal and Eritrea.

He would be even happier that both those factories became locally owned and operated, exemplifying his belief that developing countries have to run their own show.

The lens factories were part of the start of an amazing journey for The Foundation that has seen it develop from an idea that was hatched around our dining room table to an internationally respected development organisation that has saved the sight of millions of people.

The Foundation’s achievements are the sum of the work of many thousands of people who have contributed to its success over the past two decades—from Rotary International to 
the handful of paid staff who started in our tiny office at the Prince of Wales Hospital. Today we have hundreds of people working across the globe.

It is like a giant tapestry and every person who has contributed is one of the threads.

From day one, we’ve had a committed board who have guided our way. There are too many names to mention all of them, but I thank every board member for their tireless contribution.

I particularly want to thank the doctors, nurses, eye health workers and country staff who work under difficult circumstances to make Fred’s dream a reality.

Twenty years ago, and still now, many thousands of people have given their time for free, each doing their bit to carry on Fred’s work. From the person who sells a pot of jam for $5 to Dick Smith who gave us $1 million, community involvement is incredibly important, and I value every contribution.

The simple truth is that none of this work would have been possible without the support of ordinary Australians who, time after time, have found $25 to give someone the gift of sight.

On behalf of Fred and me—thank you.