Posted by Mark Ellis AM
I report that the Directors of the SEP with the General Manager of our new NGO FORESIGHT AUSTRALIA had a very tight schedule to get our messages across and to ensure the Indonesians, that we are back in action. The team consisting of Peter Lewis, Peter Stewart, Remy Di Ponio, the general manager of FORESIGHT and myself. We had an extensive week of talks and the renewing of links and friendships with the Ophthalmology Department of Hasanuddin University (UNHAS) and with the Sumba Foundation, headed by Dr Claus Bogh.

We have visited all 3 provinces in West Sumba, meeting with the Health and Medical Directors as well as viewing the relevant hospitals. Lots of plans hopefully to pave a return of an established cooperation with UNHAS and FORESIGHT Sumba Eye Program.
So, the trip - We arrived in Bali on the Saturday and then to Makassar on Sunday. We had official meetings on the Monday, including me in the capacity of honorary lecturer giving 2 lectures to the more than 30 eye registrars present. We then had talks with the leaders of UNHAS about the future of our collaboration in Sumba. This continued as an informal gathering for dinner that night.
On Tuesday we spent most of the day flying from Makassar to Denpasar and then to Sumba. After a 90-minute drive we reached our hotel (Nautili). That night prior to reaching the hotel, we met with the Health Director for West Sumba. On the Wednesday, we met the Health Director for Central Sumba and visited a couple of hospitals.
Thursday was spent at the Sumba Foundation headquarters’ checking all equipment after a 3-year absence and throwing out most of our consumables that had expired. I have never been so hot and wet, and my pants were dripping in the heat and humidity.
Friday – Was spent preparing to go back to Bali, but we were able to visit the medical director and hospital at Southwest Sumba (northwest but the Dutch are a bit crazy in their rhetoric!!).
Saturday and Sunday – were spent getting ready to return home and we arrived back in Melbourne late Sunday night. A bit of R and R was the plan in Bali. I have always not enjoyed the humidity and find it hard to survive in an environment where your clothes are constantly sticking to you. All our flights were delayed and wasted time hanging around airports was part of the “experience”.
What did we achieve? Hard to tell but we have set the ball rolling…..
1.This was our first trip with our new NGO, and we are confident that FORESIGHT will take us to a higher level. Global Health RACS, apart from their bureaucracy and red tape, have never given us the insight to improve.

2. The University of Hasanuddin Ophthalmology Department (UNHAS) and the PERDAMI (equivalent of the Ophthalmology Associations) are keen to be involved and are anticipating four visits per year to match our 6 monthly visits.
3. UNHAS is prepared to educate and train an ophthalmologist with the idea that they will spend time in SUMBA as part of the scholarship. Funding from the SEP?
4. We have a path to reach Central Health in Jakarta to make sure we can work in Indonesia legally.
5. We still need to rely on the generosity of our donors and Rotary for the time being. We need to organise more fundraising to continue.
6. With finance, UNHAS will order consumables, medications, and lenses for our work in Sumba.