This is a real life story of a Fijian man and his daughter who received eye surgery through the Beeve Foundation in Fiji.
Lupe didn’t have any problems with her eyesight and never has. But her 78-year-old father’s vision had been deteriorating for the past five years. He lives in Suva but has lost faith in the local hospital because of the length of the waiting lists. During a career in education he served as principal of many of the schools in Suva, and is disappointed with the teachers of today. If he could do anything he wanted to do, he would return to teaching.
Lupe serves on the police force and was in Suva on an annual inspection when she heard, in a radio interview, Dr. Jerry Beeve tell about the Turtle Island Eye Clinic. She asked her supervisor for two da
ys leave in order to accompany her father to Turtle Island. Having applied for leave on a Wednesday, she and her father left Suva Thursday morning by rental car ($90). They stayed in a motel near the dock from which they knew the boat to Turtle Island would leave the next morning ($45). Knowing nothing about how to get to Turtle Island, what they were supposed to take with them, how long they could expect to be away, or where they would stay when they got there, Lupe managed to find out from a friend of a friend of a cousin that they needed to be at the wharf by 6:30 a.m.
The next morning, Friday, they boarded the Island Voyager and were amazed that they didn’t have to pay, panicking that this might be the wrong boat. They arrived at Turtle Island shortly after noon. The staff examined her father on Friday afternoon and he underwent surgery that night. Before the operation, he had very blurred vision in his right eye and could recognize only light in his left eye. One day post-op he enjoyed 20/60 vision in his left eye and knows it will improve. He is looking forward to doing some teaching again.
Lupe describes what happened to her and her father as a strange and frightening set of circumstances. Nevertheless, she kept repeating to everyone how wonderful she thought the results were. Lupe’s experience is typical and not that different from any of the estimated 370 caregivers who have helped blind family members and friends make the trek to Turtle Island in the hope of restoring more quality to their lives. When someone is blind, the burden on society extends to more than just the one person suffering from blindness. Often the services of two or three caregivers are required. The pleasing thing about Lupe’s story and that of other caregivers is that when someone’s blindness is cured, these supplementary people are released and able to contribute to society in more progressive ways.
The Beeve Foundation is a non-profit organization established for the purpose of providing much needed vision care to the underserved Fijian population.
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