Fred Hollows Foundation Concert Speech

These concerts are always such an expression of musical talent, and a reminder to myself that, as appreciative as I might be, I have no practical skills in the field. But apparently I can come up here like a stormcrow and bring the mood down.

Our bi-annual concerts at the Melbourne Unitarian Church always provide great amusement and pleasure. But they are never conducted just for that purpose. Among the delight there is always a serious reason, a charity based on a worthwhile cause. Whether it has been the Humane Society, the Father Bob MaGuire Foundation, Medicine San Frontiers, East Timor Women Australia, and many others.

For many of these causes one can only explain the situation of these who are the recipients of our charitable spirit, and hopefully gather some sense from our own experiences of what these situations may be like. We are not, to use an example of the Humane Society, captive animals held under suffering. But in this case, a semblance of experience can be illustrated - but I require some audience participation.

Please stand. Close your eyes. Tightly, no peeking! Take a half-step forward. Take two steps to the left. Stop. Take two steps to the right. Stop. Take a half a step back, open your eyes and sit down.

You have just experienced few seconds of what it is like for a blind person to navigate their way through a crowd. Take a moment to imagine what it is like every second of every day.

For some people blindness is an incurable sufferance. Yet in most other cases, where it is called by problems such as cataracts, the clouding of the lens, it is relatively easy to repair. Indeed, four out of five in the world who are blind do not need to be. Their situation is curable.

The Fred Hollows Foundation was formed in 1992, after previous experiences of working in Eritrea, Nepal, Vietnam, and Indigenous Australians living in remote communities. Indeed, just before the forming of the Foundation Hollows with diagnosed with cancer and died shortly afterwards. Yet with the Foundation established, intraocular lens factories were built in Eritrea, and Nepal. As international commercial manufacturers would charge up to $100 USD for such devices, the Foundation - secular, non-profit, charitable - was able to produce the same devices for 3.5% of that cost. Today, they are exported to over forty countries.

The Fred Hollows Foundation has since restored sight to well over one million people in Australia and in developing countries around the world. By forcing down the price of equipment and introducing modern surgical techniques, The Foundation has reduced the cost of cataract surgery to as little as $25.

That's how much it takes to restore sight in the developing world; a mere $25 dollars to change a person's life. Please, keep that in mind, and give generously to the Fred Hollows Foundation.