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Twenty years of waiting Twenty years of waiting

Twenty years of waiting

Indonesia is home to 245 million people living in 34 provinces across 17,000 islands. It is this unique geography that provides tremendous challenges to delivering eye care to people in need.

Two Decades of Prayers Answered

Two years ago, 78-year old Muhamad Tayeb broke into tears as heard the news on television. It was about an eye camp in the island of Java in Indonesia and people who were once blind could see again.

The story made an impact on Tayeb, who suffered from cataract for almost 20 years. He didn’t know it was possible for sight to be restored. “I prayed so hard to be given the same opportunity as those people received,” Tayeb said.

Tayeb, who has six children and 12 grandchildren, lives with his wife in the remote district of Dompu, in the island of Sumbawa. There are no ophthalmologists in Dompu and it has been more than two years since the last eye camp was held here.
So when a health worker announced an upcoming eye camp in his district, Tayeb signed up without hesitation. His prayers were answered.
More than 150 patients stretched the district hospital beyond its normal capacity. But for Tayeb, a few hours’ wait was nothing compared to the years he spent waiting for his miracle.
Tayeb’s two-decade-old cataract was removed in a 25-minute operation. When Tayeb’s eye patch was removed, he was still in a state of prayer. When he finally opened his eyes, he couldn’t believe that he could see again. Minutes later, he broke into prayer and kneeled in front of everyone else in the eye camp.
I lost my sight for almost 20 years, and during that time I cannot see. Thanks to all of you who helped me. Thanks to God, I feel relaxed, happy, and I can see the beautiful world now. Thanks for answering my prayers!”

- Tayeb who was blind for 20 years

The Fred Hollows Foundation in Dompu

While Indonesia’s economy has experienced rapid growth in the past few years, much of the nation’s development is concentrated in big cities and on the island of Java, where more than half of Indonesians live.
The Fred Hollows Foundation is working with our partners in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) to help local people access eye care services. Eye units from the provincial to the community level also need further support to improve their capacity to deliver eye care services.
Almost 5 million people live in NTB, and the province has the third highest number of people with cataract and refractive error in the country. Despite this, the province only has 22 ophthalmologists, and only 10 of them can perform cataract surgeries. In Dompu where The Foundation works, there are no ophthalmologists and the last eye camp was held two
years ago.

印尼島嶼眾多, 難以提供眼疾服務
The high prevalence of blindness in NTB province is caused by:
  • Low awareness in communities - many people do not know that most eye diseases can be treated, especially cataract.
  • Lack of trained eye care workers – this limits the ability to conduct outreach camps and provide eye care services to communities.
  • Lack of quality eye care facilities - health units lack proper eye facilities and ophthalmic equipment.
To further improve eye care services and shorten the waiting time of patients, The Fred Hollows Foundation, in collaboration with its Indonesian project partners, is developing a new project to improve the eye care services and bring them closer to the people of NTB province.

The project aims to:
  • Train more eye care workers
  • Equip eye units to provide necessary ophthalmic tools for eye care workers
  • Subsidise cataract surgeries to the poor
  • Organise health education activities in communities
  • Train project partners on eye care program management
  • Conduct regular field monitoring to ensure quality of project implementation

First eye camps in two years 

78-year old Hajji Ijo lives with her family in Dompu, Indonesia. She is also a grandmother of 30 grandchildren. Five years ago, Ijo’s husband passed away. She now lives with her third child, Sariwar Dani, who, like Ijo, is now a widow.
Ijo’s vision started to deteriorate. She had formed cataract on both eyes, and she could not clearly see her surroundings.
“I want to do more household activities and do the laundry. Other people now do it for myself – I want to do my part and share with household chores,” Ijo said.
Like many Indonesians, Ijo is a devout Muslim. She missed praying with everyone else in the mosque. “In the past, I’ve been going to the mosque and praying five times a day. Now I am only able to stay at home. I cannot see the Qur’an anymore. I pray to God to help me see again so I can go back to the mosque and pray with the whole community,” Ijo said.

Ijo’s prayers were answered when she heard that eye doctors were visiting Dompu to provide free eye checks and treatments. In collaboration with the Dompu District Health Office, the Ophthalmologists’ Association, and local government partners, The Fred Hollows
Foundation delivered the first eye camp in Dompu after more than two years.
On the day after her operation, Ijo lines up with a crowd of hopeful patients. All of them excitedly wait to have their eye patches removed. She had anticipated that it would be a special day, so she wore a bright blue outfit with floral patterns of yellow and black. It was the same dress that she wore in her pilgrimage to Mecca more than 20 years ago.

As her eye patch was slowly removed, Ijo began to see the world clearly again. Weeping with joy, Dani ran to hug her mother tightly.
“I can open my eyes and see very clearly now! Thank God, Thank God!” 
- Ijo
With her sight back, Ijo has many things to look forward to. “Now I can see everything, I can see this beautiful world! I want to see my 30 grandchildren, my house, everything! If I would have enough money, I will return to Mecca and thank God,” Ijo said.

You donation can allow more eye camps to be organised for people in need. Donate now.

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