Giap is the little boy you see in the most iconic photo we have at The Fred Hollows Foundation. Over the years, Giap’s story has come to symbolise everything we represent. While Giap’s story has a happy ending, the beginning didn’t start off that way.
In 1992, seven year old Giap had very limited vision in one eye. Giap’s family came from one of the poorest rural areas in Vietnam, and they didn’t have the money for treatment. His father had been told Giap’s eye condition was extremely complicated, but perhaps they could speak to a man called Fred Hollows who was due to arrive in Hanoi the following week.
Giap’s father decided to take a chance and wait to see Fred. Unfortunately, he discovered Fred and his team were there especially to see older children and adults. Despite this disappointing news, Giap’s determined father stayed around in the hope of meeting Fred.
Giap caught the attention of Fred and after talking to him and his father, Fred arranged for Giap to have the operation he needed. Six days later, Giap was released from hospital with a dramatic improvement to his sight. Six months later, Fred Hollows passed away. The image of him and young Giap was one of the last, and most powerful, images to capture Fred’s immense passion for his work.
Giap was the first in his family to attend university, and today, he’s a high school mathematics teacher. He is happily living with his beautiful wife and two children. In 2006, Giap wrote to Gabi Hollows and told her that meeting Fred had always motivated him to be a better man for society.
Stories like Giap’s are a constant inspiration for The Foundation. Knowing we can be a part of helping change someone’s future is a constant motivation behind everything we do. Restoring someone’s sight is just the start of helping them out of poverty.