Optical workshop in PNG celebrates official launch

Leunig & Farmer Eyecare cofounding partner and optometrist John Farmer has returned to Gippsland following the official opening of the optical workshop in Port Moresby he helped create. 

Attended by Professor Brien Holden OAM, International Centre for Eyecare Education (ICEE) Chair, Mr Chris Moraitis, Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, and optical workshop staff, the launch was a celebration the partnership between ICEE, the staff of the Port Moresby Hospital Eye Clinic, the hospital management and staff and the PNG Health Department and their collective effort to bring the optical workshop to life.

During the opening, Mr Farmer said he felt immensely proud. “I felt so proud of the local people and what they have done with a little bit of help and support. We all want our life to make a difference and I have the privilege of working with these people to make a real difference for good, in helping many people have a better life.”

“The main thing going through my mind was, wow, we’ve really done it. We have established a sustainable low cost vision centre in PNG that will enable many more people to access eye care and glasses and so be able to see. It was a great feeling.”

Mr Famer said the highlight of the trip was meeting the Australian High Commissioner to PNG, Mr Chris Moraitis and talking with him about eye care and the future needs in PNG. “He is a fine man and cares about PNG and its development. He was very supportive of what we are doing,” Mr Farmer explained.

On his return, Mr Farmer says his patients are overwhelmingly positive and supportive of his work in PNG. “They are very supportive of what we are doing and supportive of me for being involved. The Leunig and Farmer involvement in PNG eye care has become important to them over time and they feel a connection through me to the wonderful impact it is having on people in PNG.”

Mr Farmer said his focus is now to provide ongoing remote support from Gippsland to the staff he has trained. “We have already increased our staff in Port Moresby to 4 people so it is growing rapidly and having an increasing impact. They need continued support which I can offer via email and over the phone.” He will be returning to PNG again for short visits next year to continue training and encouragement of the local people. “We will be establishing at least three more similar centres in other major hospitals in PNG over the next six months so there is still more work to be done.”

If you would like to make a donation of funds to the workshop in PNG, please visit your local Leunig & Farmer Eyecare in Drouin, Moe, Pakenham or Warragul.