Vision loss can’t dampen Kiara man’s enthusiasm to be creative

Ba Huynh Pham of Kiara is a retired dentist, painter and photographer, as well as volunteer singing and music teacher at the Vietnamese Catholic Community College in Westminster despite having vision loss. Picture: David Baylis d483110
Ba Huynh Pham of Kiara is a retired dentist, painter and photographer, as well as volunteer singing and music teacher at the Vietnamese Catholic Community College in Westminster despite having vision loss. Picture: David Baylis d483110

WHILE vision loss ended Ba Huynh Pham’s dental career, he continues to expand his skills through music and home renovations.

The Kiara resident recently finished a timber-lined ceiling in his home, after making himself an extendible guide to measure and cut the timber with a power saw.

A painter and photographer, Dr Pham has also embraced music to express himself artistically and volunteers at the Vietnamese Catholic Community College in Westminster.

There, he teaches singing and music through private tuition, as well as composing music.

The accomplished pianist and organist has been learning electric and bass guitar as well, finding many ways to maintain a fulfilling life.

“What you lose in sight, you gain in other ways; I’m still creative and life is so full,” he said.

“People with vision have many beautiful things in the world to enjoy but beauty is whatever you make it.”

Dr Pham fled Vietnam as a refugee in 1980, going to Malaysia before relocating to Germany, where he set up a dental practice.

He was diagnosed with a genetic condition that causes retina cells to degenerate, retinitis pigmentosa, 15 years ago and retired seven years later.

“It was such a big shock,” he said.

In 2007, Dr Pham and his family moved to Perth, his wife Dung’s home town and threw himself into supporting his children’s education.

“My wife works, and I mostly take care of the children,” he said.

“I’m bringing the children through school; I cook; I clean; I do all the jobs here.”

Support from Vision Australia helps Dr Pham to navigate life without vision, with specialists installing tactile markings on his kitchen appliances and guitar frets.

To help him guide his children with their homework, the organisation supplied him with a text scanner with text-to-speech software and a Braille Sense unit.

Vision Australia services support people who are blind or have low vision. Call 6246 4505 for more information.

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