Canberrans donate more money to combating eye disease in Africa than any other state or territory per-capita, despite fears their contributions will not cover federal budget cuts.
In the past financial year, ACT residents donated more than $500,000 to The Fred Hollows Foundation, helping the organisation perform more than 728,000 eye operations and treatments.
Dr Wanjiku (Ciku) Mathenge, the first female eye surgeon trained by the foundation in Africa, was in Canberra this week calling for additional funding and awareness of eye disease in the continent.
"I started facing challenges on the first day of my job because I would diagnose a patient with cataracts, but one of the troubles we have is maintaining enough supplies," she said.
Last week, The Fred Hollows Foundation chief executive Brian Doolan said cuts to the Australian aid budget saw $2.4 million stripped from the organisation's programs across the world.
In 2014, the organisation was also sponsored by 125,000 Australian donors who contributed $50 million in donations.
"The cuts to Australian aid will make the work of The Fred Hollows Foundation harder in 2016," he said.
"These cuts mean that next year, people who should have had their eyesight restored will remain blind."
In 2014, the foundation built, renovated or upgraded 36 medical facilities and delivered more than $3.8 million of medical equipment to those in need.
The foundation also trained 56,000 health workers from community staff to ophthalmologists.
Dr Mathenge said the foundation's staff in Africa had already noticed the impacts of the cuts and hoped donations from the public would continue to support their work.
"At the beginning, the foundation was concerned about small projects and our ability to help individuals with eye disease," she said.
"With time, we have evolved so now we are concerned about systematic problems, such as the provision of scholarships and our role in hospitals."
Dr Mathenge said any funding cuts disrupted long-term planning and aid projects in Africa, making ongoing care more difficult.
"An incomplete hospital is useless and it does make training difficult, which is a key priority for the foundation," she said.
Dr Mathenge thanked the people of Canberra for supporting her work and said she was surprised by their generosity.
"It's not a big city, so to be one of the biggest donors is very special. They just give because they are generous and it is appreciated," she said.
"ACT donors are very generous supporters of the foundation," said a foundation spokeswoman.
"Without them, we simply could not continue our work training surgeons such as Dr Ciku Mathenge."
Mr Doolan called on foundation donors to dig a little deeper in June to help overcome the cuts to aid from the federal government.