How falling over (for the sighted) can help the blind

02 Dec 2016

Would you know how much money to hand over to a shopkeeper if you couldn’t see? Or make your way around roadblocks in the street? Or identify what that gushing sound is close by?

A Macquarie team fundraising for the Fred Hollows Foundation understood that tangibly experiencing a loss of sight can help people empathise with others who have no choice but to make their way through life without this most important of senses.

The team set up smelling, tasting, walking and money challenges as their entry in a Macquarie Investment Management (MIM) division-wide charitable competition.

Eighteen community organisations were chosen by the more than 170 MIM staff who participated in the competition, raising awareness and funds as well as giving time.

The Macquarie Group Foundation’s Lauren O’Shaughnessy, who judged the various entries, said that cumulatively the competition “was an amazing effort”, with more than $A46,000 raised including Foundation matching.

The Blind Challenge won the overall competition, with O’Shaughnessy saying she thought it best demonstrated the theme of ‘helping shape tomorrow’s community’. More than 100 people from Macquarie’s Hong Kong office were involved in this event and the $A30,000 raised translates to more than 1,200 people’s sight being restored.

Duke Lo, from Macquarie’s Hong Kong office, helped coordinate the winning event, said participants found it a very rewarding experience.

“We wanted to share with our colleagues what it means to live in darkness,” he said.

“We hope it gave people an opportunity to think about the great work the people at Fred Hollows are doing to make a better way of life for victims of blindness who cannot afford proper care. In particular, making a difference to help underprivileged children who are visually impaired was very enriching.”

O’Shaughnessy also highlighted two other teams’ work: a Sydney group who created prosthetic hands for landmine victims through the organisation Helping Hands, and a Hong Kong team who worked with the Centre For Refugees, helping people settle into their new countries.

Image caption: Blindfolded smelling was just one of the challenges set for ‘blind’ participants at a Fred Hollows Foundation fundraiser.