Fatima Alward Aldarmaki has become the first person from the Gulf region to be appointed as global ambassador of the Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF).
An Australian charity, FHF focuses on treating and preventing blindness and other vision problems. Aldarmaki is set to begin her three-year term as ambassador in this international development capacity.
"I am very honoured to be named an ambassador of the Fred Hollows Foundation," she said. "Vision loss is a close cause to my heart, as both my mother and my late father suffered from vision impairment."
The foundation's CEO, Ian Wishart, welcomed Aldarmaki on board and said her efforts would help create a greater understanding about vision loss among Arab audiences, especially Emiratis.
"Today, our ambassador, Aldarmaki, becomes the first Emirati and Gulf person to join our global campaign to end avoidable blindness and vision impairment since the foundation's establishment in 1992," Wishart said.
Aldarmaki noted that millions of people around the world are blind because they don't have access to appropriate eye care services.
"Being the ambassador puts a great responsibility on my shoulders. I chose to partner with the foundation to achieve a world where no person is needlessly blind or visually impaired," she said.
Aldarmaki's knowledge has developed as a result of her extensive journalism coverage of eye health projects in 2018 and 2018 in North Africa.
Recalling her own experience with eye health, she said: "My late father felt distressed at not being able to see clearly. The ophthalmologist told him he was suffering from an eye condition, which left him partially blind in one of his eyes. Luckily, his condition was treatable blindness. My father never complained about his health problems and did not like to go to hospitals, but when his sight deteriorated, he did not wait and immediately sought treatment."
She added that eye health can have a "tremendous impact" on an individual's well-being and quality of life.
"When elderly people lose their sight, they lose their autonomy, dignity, and self-sufficiency. I learned a lot about vision loss and that the problem can be fixed with as little as Dh70 in some countries. It is remarkable to know that more than 90 per cent of vision loss is preventable or treatable,” she said.
Aldarmaki was born and raised in Al Ain. She graduated from the United Arab Emirates University with a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication in 2007. In 2014, she earned a Master of Arts in media and communications from Brunel University in the UK.
The Fred Hollows Foundation is a leading international development organisation that has helped restore sight in more than 2.5 million people around the world and has supported programmes to deliver more than 100 million doses of antibiotics for trachoma.
It continues the work of the late professor Fred Hollows, a globally-renowned eye surgeon who believed everyone should have access to high-quality affordable eye care, no matter where they live.
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