News / USA

    California Eye Doctor Leads Annual Medical Mission to Fiji

    Dr. Jerry Beeve with a patient in Fiji
    Dr. Jerry Beeve with a patient in Fiji

    For the past 20 years, a California eye doctor has traveled to Fiji to provide free medical care, including delicate eye surgeries, for low-income Fijians. This April Dr. Jerry Beeve is leading a 20-member to the Fijian island of Vanua Levu.

    A start with wedding anniversary

    Jerry Beeve and his wife, Dorothy, were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary at a resort in Fiji.

    "And we loved the people. And this one gentleman was working in the garden we had to go by every day to get to the restaurant. He was about 65-years-old and I gave him my glasses," he said.

    He later met the man's wife, whose eyesight was marred by serious cataracts.

    "She put her hand down to shake my hand and missed me by about two feet. And that's what brought us over. We said, we're going to come over here, pass out glasses and do cataract surgery," said Beeve. "The first year, we did seven people, and last year we did 200 people, 200 major procedures."

    First mission

    It took two years to organize the first medical mission, which took place in 1991. Dorothy Beeve, a registered nurse, says conditions were basic.

    "We did surgery in our bedroom with pouring rain outside, and we had our anesthesiologist and scrub tech, and myself," she said.

    This year, more than 20 team members plan to spend eight days screening more than 2,000 patients at a hospital in Natuvu Creek, Fiji. The team will include American surgeons and optometrists from Australia. They will provide eyeglasses and do cataract surgery and corneal transplants.

    Beeve says their medical missions have treated more than 25,000 people, more than three percent of Fiji’s population of nearly a million .

    "We get in a taxicab in the big cities, and I'll tell them what my name is and they say, oh, you operated on my grandma," said Beeve. "And so they know exactly who you are right away. We've had some free tickets on taxicab rides."

    Dear Lord, It's Jerry Again

    Dr. Jerry Beeve with an eye patient in Fuji
    Dr. Jerry Beeve with an eye patient in Fuji

    The Beeves are members of the Seventh-Day Adventist denomination, which has a history of medical missions. Beeve says he was not always the most regular of churchgoers, but has seen so many coincidences through his efforts in Fiji that he believes in the power of prayer. Through chance meetings, he was able to get free air transport for his medical supplies and equipment, and a Fijian acquaintance located a hard-to-find component for a broken microscope. He has written a book describing his experiences, called Dear Lord, It's Jerry Again.

    Dorothy Beeve is in charge of logistics for the annual medical mission, working through a charity the couple created called the Beeve Foundation. She coordinates donations from drug companies, equipment purchases and transport.

    "Every year, putting this together, it's a lot of stress, a lot of hard work, even before we go because we work all year long to get everything together, going to our different pharmaceutical companies and getting donations in to cover our costs," she said. "But once you get over there and see the joy that we bring to the patients, it's so rewarding. Because these people are in tears. After the patch comes off their eyes, they are just so happy, so delighted."

    "A new lease on life"

    Her husband says that patients get a new lease on life when their sight is restored.

    "These people come in and they're blind. And their parents died blind. And they think this is what's going to happen to them. And you take that patch off, and they get all excited and their arms go way up, and you're going yes, this is so exciting," he said. "This is what brings up back year after year after year."

    Jerry and Dorothy Beeve say they and their team members want to hug every patient, but don't have the time. There are too many people to see during long days of treatment and surgery that stretch from early morning till late evening, to make sure as many Fijians as possible get that new lease on life.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.