Sight restored to 244 Fijian eyes …

The 15th instalment of the Taveuni Eye Project was successfully completed during the two-week period commencing 12th June 2023.  This project, which the Rotary Club of Taveuni Island has been running since 2005, is aimed at giving/restoring sight to children and adults from remote rural areas of Fiji.

During the ten days of surgical operations, sight was restored to 244 Fijian eyes, with the treated patients ranging in age from 6-years to 92-years.  A total of 359 consultations resulted in 245 interventions, with a total of 213 patients being treated.

Surgery was undertaken to remove Cataracts
(177 interventions) and Pterygium (66 interventions).  Two other patients had other procedures completed, including treatment of a young child for Conjunctivitis.

Patients were drawn from Taveuni and the nearby Koro, Kioa, Qamea and Rabi Islands, with a few patients also coming from Viti Levu and Vanua Levu (the two main Fijian Islands).

Rotary Club of Boronia member and lead Project Manager, Peter Malden and wife Jan (now also a Club member) again travelled to Fiji to manage and support implementation of the project.  The project team comprised eleven international medical staff (surgeons, specialists, general practitioners, and surgical assistants) from New Zealand, the USA and Australia; seven local medical staff (surgical and nursing); fourteen medical support personnel (local and from Australia); and a team of twelve local people who provided food, accommodation, and other support services.

Screening of potential patients was undertaken in their home villages and at no cost by the Fiji Society for the Blind.  As well as providing information and support to those identified for surgery, other valuable health related checks were also undertaken as part of this process.

The project was supported by:

  • Volunteer team members – who donated their time and paid their own travel expenses.
  • Corporate donations ‘in kind’ – some fourteen companies, including Victorian based Spotless and Simba Global, donated a range of goods and services.
  • Government – Fiji Ministry of Health; Fiji Society for the Blind.
  • Rotary – The Rotary Foundation; Rotary Australia World Community Service; Rotary New Zealand World Community Service; Rotary Clubs of Taveuni Island; Newmarket (New Zealand) and Boronia (principal supporters) together with other Australian and New Zealand Rotary Clubs, which provided funding and in-person support.
  • All Rotary Club of Taveuni members and friends who provided food, fruit, cakes and biscuits for the volunteers in the team.

Further details of this life changing project can be found on the Taveuni Eye Project website.

For the blind and vision impaired people of Fiji:
The Taveuni Eye Project is their “impossible dream come true”.

They leave home blind and when they return, they have full sight;
now “that is very special!”

August 2023

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