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
Mike O'Sullivan

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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs