Friday, September 18, 2009

Fred Hollows

Fred Hollows worked with eyes.

He was a hero.

I think he helped Indigenous Australians.

That's about all I know....or what I think I know.

He worked with someone I wrote about before.  Maybe Mum Shirl?

I shall start my research.

Lord Wiki says that baby Fred was born on 9 April 1929 in New Zealand. South Island or North? The town is Dunedin.... I used to be very good at New Zealand geography. Now sadly, I've forgotten most of it.

Well, Lord Wiki says it's on the South Island. The Hollow family lived there for Fred's first seven years.

He had three siblings.

I assumed when Lord Wiki said seven years, that this was the time Hollows emigrated to Australia. It's not. He moved within New Zealand. They switched islands; went up north.

Hollows went to university in Wellington. That's Lord of the Rings land. Right?

Well, according to IMDb, some of it was filmed there. The studio was there, at least. The rest of the movie was filmed elsewhere in New Zealand.

Anyway, I'm not sure what Hollows studied at the university. Lord Wiki says he briefly considered the clergy route, but decided against it. He had done some charity work at a mental hospital. There he observed some doctors. I guess they inspired him. He enrolled in medical school.

The school he went to was the University of Otago Dunebin School of Medicine. This was back in his birth town.

In his medical school days, Hollows was into mountain climbing. He even became a member of the New Zealand Alpine Club.

Besides medical school and mountain climbing, he was also a member of the Communist Party. Red alert! Red alert!

In 1961, Hollows furthered his education in England. He'd be about thirty-two then. Hollows studied ophthalmology at Moorfield's Eye Hospital.

After that he went to Wales for awhile. Then he finally came to Australia. This was in 1965. Who was Prime Minister then? Was it Holt? Maybe Menzies?

Lord Wiki says it was Menzies.

Hollows became an associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Sydney. He chaired that division for a long time.  1965-1992. He worked with students at the university, and also the Prince of Wales hospital.

Lord Wiki says Hollows was married twice. His first wife died in 1975. Five years later, he married a fellow eye doctor. Together they had five children.

Hollows didn't become an Australian citizen until 1989. A few years later, he died.

I was right. Hollows did work with Indigenous Australians. He worked with the Gurindji people in the Northern Territory. Those are the famous folks featured in the song "From Little Things Big Things Grow".

Hollows also worked with Indigenous and/or rural people in New South Wales.

In 1971, he and Mum Shirl set up the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern.

Hollows noticed that too many Indigenous Australians had a disease called Trachoma. Lord Wiki says this is an infectious disease. Around 84 million people in the world have it. Many of them become visually impaired.

It's caused by bad hygiene. This is not the bad hygiene that comes from being gross and lazy. It comes from not having clean water and good sanitation.

The disease has pretty much disappeared from the industrialized world. It still plagues people in developing nations.

In Australia, Hollows treated Aboriginal people with the disease....many of them. Sometimes this involved surgery. Other times, it did not.

The Fred Hollows Foundation was established in 1992. The organization was set up to further his work. Hollows himself died not long after the foundation began.

Hollows had some controversy in his last years. This was regarding AIDS and the HIV virus. He made comments about some homosexuals "recklessly spreading the virus". At least he said SOME. And there's no argument from me there. I'm sure there were/are some homosexuals that recklessly spread the virus. There are heterosexuals who do the same.

I'm not sure of the details about spreading the virus. Is homosexual sex more likely to spread the virus? I know it started off big in the gay community.....

I shall go look this up.

This NY Times article has some information about it. They say, Whether sex is homosexual or heterosexual, the probability of acquiring HIV-1 is related less to promiscuity than to the type of contact and the sex of the partner. Especially among men who have sex with men, the number of partners is far less important than the kind of sex they practice.

The article says that anal sex is the most terms of spreading the virus. But a penis needs to be involved for it to be that risky.

Lesbian sex is very safe....even anal stuff. It has to do with penetration though. If blood and lesions are involved, problems may arise.

This article says pretty much the opposite of the ideas Hollows promoted...or what Lord Wiki says he promoted. Hollows felt it wasn't about safe sex. He thought it was more about promiscuity.

Maybe it should be about both. If someone is into sodomy, they should probably greatly limit their sexual partners. Otherwise, maybe they can be a little more promiscuous. Oral sex is a safer choice. Although it still carries minimal risks.

I'm guessing that condoms would probably make anal sex much safer.

Enough sex talk. I'm going to end up seeing weird stuff on my Statcounter.

Hollows died pretty young. He was 63. He died of renal cancer, something he struggled with for six years. Actually, the renal part is what eventually killed him. His kidney cancer was metastatic. Lord Wiki says this means the cancer didn't originate in the Kidney.

Hollows was known as being an anarcho-syndicalist. I have to read about this.

Lord Wiki says they're anti-capitalist. They're against wages...period.  Or some of them are. I can't quite understand all this. It goes a bit over my head.

All right. I'm ready to move on, and look at other websites.

Maybe I'll look at the Fred Hollows Foundation. They don't limit their work to Australia. They also help people in Africa, Asian, and the Oceania area.

The foundation website says that in 1990, Hollows was honored as Australian of the Year. That was the year after he had become a citizen. That's pretty cool.

In Australia, the foundation focuses most of their attention on the indigenous communities in the Northern Territory and New South Wales. They have various strategies for helping people. It's not just about the eyes. It's about bettering Aboriginal life all together.

The foundation is trying to fight against faulty nutrition issues in the Aboriginal communities. The website says that the cost of fresh food in rural areas is 150-180% higher than the capital cities. Wow. The foundation is doing various things to provide people with better food. One way they do this is by bringing in more food to the local stores. The other route they're taking is the gardening route. Get people to grow their own food. Although isn't that hard in certain areas of Australia? Maybe it's not impossible, but I can imagine it's a bit challenging sometimes.

The foundation is working to help increase literacy. Their website says that by year 7, less than one in five indigenous children can read at the minimum level. That's pretty bad. The Fred Hollow Foundation is trying to fix things. One of the ways they do this is by providing culturally relevant materials. It's easier for kids to learn when they work with material that is meaningful and interesting to them.

I strongly agree with this.

It was one of the debates we had in my young adult literature class in college. Is it better for High School English classes to use the classic stuff written by the dead white people, or should they use modern young adult literature? Some people believe we must stick to the dead white people.

I think to get people to START reading, we should entice them with material that greatly attracts them. Then later, once they're reading, perhaps they'll branch out into other stuff, including perhaps a little bit of dead white people stuff.

I haven't forced any classics on Jack. Well, actually we did struggle through a few chapters of Little House on the Prairie. He hated it.

I let him read what he wants to read. I figure one day he might pick up some of the classics. If not, I don't think it's a huge deal. Some might yell out cultural literacy! We need to all read the same stuff so we have something to talk about. Yeah. Or we could all just watch The Simpsons and talk about that.

The Fred Hollows Foundation works with that other important sense organ.  The ear. Some Aboriginal communities are having alarming rates of ear infections. This can lead to hearing loss, and hearing loss can lead to learning and developmental issues.

The Foundation helps women. They have a center where women can be shielded from domestic violence, but also given training and education.

Last, but definitely not least...the foundation helps to strengthen the community. This involves community festivals and stuff like that.

I'm going to see if there are any videos about Hollows I can watch.

Here's a tribute video. I like the idea behind it...GREAT images. It's excellent at illustrating who Hollows was, and what he contributed to society. If it was up to me though, I'd choose a different song, and make the video a minute or two shorter. There's nothing wrong with the song per se. I just don't think it fits that well. I personally feel another song would have been better.

Here's another tribute video. I'll see if I prefer this one. Oh. I like that one MUCH better. I think both videos are actually made by the Foundation though. The second one did a better job at convincing me to get out my credit card.

The only thing I don't like about donating to Australian organizations is that sometimes they send me stuff through snail mail. Although I love getting mail from Australia, I think it's a waste of trees. Plus, it's a waste of money to send international mail. I left them a comment about that....please don't send me mail. We'll see if they listen.

The message I got from the video (and elsewhere) was that Hollows was the kind of person who didn't just TALK about helping others. He actually went out and DID something.
I think he was a true hero.

Not only was he a hero and very skilled surgeon, he also had this talent of balancing a child on one hand. Examples of this incredible feat are shown in both videos. In the latter video, theLink image is at :57.

Ah! The Foundation made a short version of the first video for television. It's only one minute long. It used the same song. Maybe I'll like this one better.

Yes. I think the shorter one is much better. It ends with a great quote from Hollows.
Every eye is an eye. When you are doing the surgery there, that is just as important as if you were doing eye surgery on The Prime Minister or King.

There are those who believe that there are divisions in society for a reason. They believe that those in poverty are in that life because they DESERVE to be. We should turn our backs on those in need because if we don't, our own wealth and lifestyle might be threatened.

Fred Hollows wasn't that kind of person. He believed in bringing light to those in darkness. If that's what Communism and Anarcho-Synicalism is about, I think it's sad that we villainize it so much.


  1. What a man Fred Hollows was ... who was it that gave him those monikers? It doesn't matter what his ideals were ... his actions and legacy far outweight his private thoughts ... good one Dina. xo

  2. Redness,

    I'm not sure who labeled him. I thought for one of the things, he was a self-proclaimed one. I may be thinking of something else.

    I agree about his ideals. I don't think the ideal of Communism is bad at all. It just hasn't yet worked well in practice.

  3. He was a shocking grump, but that is nothing to do with his work.

    'There are those who believe that there are divisions in society for a reason.' Sounds to me like a Republican speaking.

  4. Andrew,

    Well, I'm the one who said it, and I am NOT a Republican.

    I'm not sure why you'd think that sounds like a Republican speaking. ?????

    To me it sounds like someone talking ABOUT Republicans.

    Didn't know about Hollows being a grump. Interesting!

  5. Frred was a legend.


    Abe F