The Armidale community has gone above and beyond with the spirit of giving by providing a family the best Christmas gift of all: restoring sight to a single father and his two children.
Over the past year, the Armidale and surrounding regions have generously donated $158,000 to The Fred Hollows Foundation, allowing them to reach Porlee, Blong, Shoua and thousands of other blind and vision impaired people.
Porlee and his children Shoua and Blong live in a small, remote village in Lao PDR.
Life is hard for local villagers, but Porlee's has been especially tough as both his children were born with blinding cataracts.
"Our life was so difficult, I had no idea what to do," Porlee said.
When Porlee heard about a Fred Hollows outreach eye camp that could help his children, he packed their bags and set off on the eight-hour journey to the hospital.
At the Provincial Hospital, Dr Phetsamone Indara examined Porlee as well, and discovered he also had cataract in both eyes.
"This was a very important case," Dr Phetsamone said.
"The father and both his children had cataracts. I was willing to operate, but only on five eyes - one eye for the father, as he needed to be able to look after his children."
Their story has a happy ending because of Porlee's tenacious love for his children, the skill of an ophthalmic surgeon trained by the Fred Hollows Foundation, and the people of the Armidale region who gave the Foundation the resources to reach Porlee's family.
Founding Director of The Fred Hollows Foundation Gabi Hollows, extended her heartfelt thanks to the people of Armidale and the surrounding region, saying Fred would be amazed by their compassion to help people who shouldn't need to go blind.
"Without the support of people from the Armidale region, the Foundation couldn't have helped so many people like Porlee and his beautiful children this year," Gabi Hollows said.
"Our generous donors are at the heart of our Fred Hollows family, and they help us transform the lives of those living with avoidable blindness.
"I am so grateful to everyone who has supported our work this year, and the past 25 years; I extend my heartfelt thanks and wish you all a safe and happy holiday season."
For more information about the Fred Hollows Foundation or to help restore sight, visit www.hollows.org or call 1800 352 352.