200 benefit from eye project, thankful

MORE than 200 eye patients who were treated on Taveuni over the past week praised international donors and volunteers for their assistance.

The patients, many of whom were between 60 and 70 years of age, described the annual eye project as a high-class treatment.

Some travelled from Viti Levu.

Saiasi Etuate, 73, of Lau, said the fact that none of the patients paid a single cent for treatment meant the international donors valued Fijians.

“We only brought our clothes with us, and we were picked from our houses, taken to Suva to board the ship and then to Taveuni. All transport and food costs were paid for,” he said.

“Through the great help of Taveuni Rotary Club, they have been able to bring locals from around the country and gave us another opportunity to life.”

Saula Dokonivalu, another patient, said the machines brought in by donors for the eye surgeries had remained at the Waiyevo Hospital and had benefited locals.

“We have the best surgeons from around the world who provide their services for free,” he said.

“We have been told that it could cost us about $10,000 for this basic eye surgery and that is expensive.”

Amenatave Bola, who was partially blind for more than a decade, said they all travelled to Taveuni as blind people surrounded by darkness.

“After the surgery, we all return with better eyesights and we can see the world, so we are forever grateful to all those who have helped us.”

Rotary Club of Taveuni executive Geoffrey Amos said they would continue to help locals with such surgeries.

“The club, together with the Rotary Club of Boronia in Australia, Newmarket in New Zealand and other donors, have helped us run this project over the past 12 years,” he said.

“We spend a lot of money on this project and we know that the locals appreciate our help so we will continue to help them.”

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