Eleven-year-old Aneke Kilbride was recently named the winner of the 2022 Fred Hollows Foundation NZ Humanity Awards, proudly sponsored by Specsavers.

The newly titled Junior Ambassador addressed her local council at a planning meeting. She conveyed her concerns to councillors and public members about environmental issues and their impact on the local community.

The Fred Hollows Humanity Awards, now in its fourth year in New Zealand, is a movement created to recognise passionate children following in the footsteps of legendary New Zealander and founder of the Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, the late Professor Fred Hollows. The Awards recognise young New Zealanders who strive to make the world around them better and embody the values of compassion, integrity and kindness.

Dr Audrey Aumua, Fred Hollows Foundation NZ CEO, applauded Aneke’s actions. “The courage and leadership Aneke demonstrated by challenging those in power to step up for the community encapsulates the qualities of Fred Hollows.

“Fred championed the right for all people to have high quality and affordable eye care, and he spent his life standing up for that right,” adds Dr Aumua.

Aneke chose to donate the Specsavers sponsored $5,000 prize money to a programme supporting the Mobile Eye Clinic, run by The Foundation that trains postgraduate eye care courses to nurses from around the Pacific.

Specsavers Stakeholder and Professional Communications Manager, Duchesne Markham, is thrilled to see the prize money going to a programme that Specsavers also supports through optometry outreaches each year.

“Specsavers optometrists work very closely with The Fred Hollows Foundation’s Pacific nurse training programme. Optometrists volunteer to run workshops and tutorials each year through the Pacific Eye Institute in Fiji and the Divine Word University in Papua New Guinea,” says Duchesne.

With impressive foresight for her age, Aneke believes education and training are essential to ensure people in Fijian communities receive the best possible health care.

“Education is important. Before we fund other Fred Hollows Foundation sight-saving services like the Mobile Eye Clinic, we need to train nurses who can work in it,” says Aneke.

Aneke’s allocation of the $5,000 will help make a difference and improve the lives of so many. Not only is she supporting such a worthwhile humanitarian cause, but she is also putting a spotlight on the impacts on our environment. We look forward to seeing where Aneke’s passion takes her in the future.