68 surgeries were performed in 10 days by Dr. Jeff Rutgard and Dr. Federico Rupil as part of the 13th annual Taveuni Eye Project (TEP). The TEP was started by our very own Dr. Jeff and has grown to be one of the largest-spanning, long-standing missions in the Pacific. Patients from all throughout Fiji are screened by their local nurses and transported by barge or boat to Taveuni Hospital. They are then measured, operated, monitored and return home all within 3 days.
This mission is a great team effort, including veteran volunteers from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Argentina and local Fijians. Special thanks to Nurse Jan Beamish and Dr. Lin Tsai for serving with Dr. Jeff again this year. And, of course, a big vinaka to TEP Coordinators Nurse Ineke van Laar, Geoffrey Amos and the Rotary Club of Taveuni Island for all of their hard work to plan and execute this hugely successful program again this year!
Under Dr. Jeff’s lead, this mission has grown exponentially. Thousands of elderly patients have regained their independence through restored vision because of this program. Thousands of adults are able to rejoin the work force to provide for their families now that they can see. And hundreds of young Fijians who were born blind, have been given the gift of sight and a bright future. It’s an honor to partner with such dedicated humanitarians and to be part of such great work. HEF looks forward to many more years of service together in Fiji.