A 5-day eye camp in the Kampong Chen Cheung commune of Stong District, Cambodia, has recently restored sight to over 190 people. Around 500 people lined up to have their eyes checked by an outreach surgical team consisting of an ophthalmologist, a resident and three nurses. Intrepid travellers and The Intrepid Foundation have supported The Fred Hollows Foundation’s Cambodia program over many years, and have helped restore hope and dignity to many Cambodians through the restoration of their sight.
Mr Chhun Chat, the commune chief, said that every year The Fred Hollows Foundation’s eye camp brings hope, smiles and laughter to his villages. “As far as I remember it has been the fifth eye camp conducted in my commune,” he says. “We were waiting for their visit to arrive sooner, so hundreds of people would have the chance to see their loved ones again.”
Over 90% of blindness in Cambodia is avoidable – most of it the result of cataracts – but a large number of Cambodians live in poverty and struggle to afford the relatively simple and inexpensive cataract operation they need to have their sight restored. Kampong Chet Cheung commune is approximately 90km (55 miles) from the nearest eye care services in Kampong Thom or Siem Reap – an impossible distance for the blind to travel, especially with little to no money available for transport.
Mr Chhun Chat believes it is essential that eye services are taken directly to the remote regions of Cambodia, where people would remain blind without the support of overseas donors, through The Fred Hollows Foundation. “I thank our friends far, far away, for bringing new sight and new hope to my village,” he says.
The Fred Hollows Foundation has worked in Cambodia since 1998 and in this time their programs have made a significant impact, servicing more than half of the Cambodian population, across nine provinces and Phnom Penh city. Earlier last year the new Siem Reap Regional Eye Hospital, built by The Fred Hollows Foundation, was opened near Angkor Wat. This facility alone will support eye care services for three million people!
The Intrepid Foundation – travellers making a difference
Help support the Fred Hollows Foundation and other great organisations via the Intrepid Foundation, plus find out how your donation can be matched* by Intrepid Travel!
* Donations will be matched by Intrepid Travel up to AU$5000 (or equivalent) per donor and a total of AU$400,000 each financial year.
Photo: © Fred Hollows Foundation