Dan is blind in one eye and considers it a blessing from God. Dan is 44 years old. He is married to Salote, and they hope to have a family. He lives on the island of Moturiki, on the east coast of Viti Levu, where he was born.
Dan was just 3 years old when he was blinded in his right eye while playing with some older children. He had full use of his left eye until he was 15, when a cataract began to obscure his remaining vision.
Dan was taken to the hospital at Suva for treatment of his cataract, but his family became frightened when the doctors discusses the possibility of also removing his damaged eye and replacing it with a “marble” (prosthesis).
Dan returned untreated to Moturiki. He grew accustomed to his deteriorating eyesight, and by August 1999, at age 39, he was totally blind. He was unable to farm or fish, and his wife Salote cared for him. Dan had very little to do but pray.
That December his brother visited him and told him about the eye clinic on Turtle Island. Neither Dan nor his brother knew when the next clinic would begin. Rather than take the risk of missing an opportunity, they decided that Dan and Salote would travel to Suva with Dan’s brother and wait there until they heard news of the clinic. Dan and Salote stayed in Suva until early January 2000, when they heard about a radio advertisement for the Turtle Island Eye Clinic. When they inquired at the Suva hospital, Dan was told to go to the Lautoka Hospital by his own means.
Dan and Salote caught a bus to Lautoka (nine hours at a cost of $23.60) where they were met by a distant relative who put them up for three days. It took that long to be processed through Lautoka Hospital and get a ticket on the Island Voyager (a chartered boat used to transport patients at no charge from the mainland to Turtle Island and vice versa.
On Sunday, January 16, 2000, Dan and Salote were among the first patients to step ashore on Turtle Island from the Island Voyager. And Dan was the first patient of Dr. Rey, who had joined Dr. Beeve for the 2000 eye clinic. After a triple procedure (corneal transplant, cataract extraction, and intraocular lens implant) Dan was sent back to the village of Yanqeta to rest. The next day he caught a small boat back to Turtle Island, had his patch removed-and was able to see the smiling Dr. Rey.
After two weeks of gradually improving sight, Dan caught the Island Voyager back to Lautoka, where he again stayed with relatives for three months. During that time the Lautoka Hospital maintained observation and his post-operative care on a weekly basis.
After this three-month period, Dan asked if he could return to Suva to live with his brother. This was agreed to, on the condition that Dan would return to Lautoka each month for checkups. But Dan and Salote were homesick and longed to return to their village on the island of Moturiki, so after a couple of months commuting from Suva to Lautoka, Dan asked for permission to return to Moturiki. This also was agreed to, on the condition Dan would return to Lautoka each month.
Dan returned to Turtle Island in January 2001 to see Dr. Rey for his one-year post-op check, this time by himself. Dan’s quality of life had improved dramatically. Some sutures on his corneal graft were loosened to further enhance his eyesight. He was excited to read a much-worn newspaper article about his eye surgeries. It was taped to the front door of the local theater. Dan asked for a copy of it so he might show it to others, telling them about his experiences and how the clinic changed his life.
Like all the patients we’ve had the opportunity to meet, Dan is immensely grateful for the work of the clinic and the people and organizations that contribute to its continued success.
He had to overcome a great deal of fear to regain his eyesight. And afterward it was necessary for him to travel regularly in harsh conditions from one side of the island chain to the other for his check-ups. He paid a considerable sum of money for expenses and lived away from his home for eight months, relying on the goodwill and hospitality of strangers and hitherto unknown family members. Dan is blind in one eye, but still is a very happy man.
The Beeve Foundation is a non-profit organization established for the purpose of providing much needed vision care to the underserved Fijian population.
Click here to learn more about us!
*Happy designed by Riley Shaw from the thenounproject.com