Our Memories in Fiji

Attn: Mr. Richard Hackett, President, Sea Mercy

Dear Richard,

It was such a unique and rewarding experience to be a part of the recent Sea Mercy mission, the inaugural voyage to the outer islands of the nation of Fiji.

Let us begin by giving particular credit to those who worked alongside the volunteers to provide our living accommodations, meals and transportation. The boat Captains and crew of both the Dragonfly and the Rebelle worked tirelessly to make sure all the events happened in a timely, efficient and safe manner. They often worked many late hours to assure our mission was accomplished. We were very impressed with their professionalism and dedication. We are sure they will remain our friends for a lifetime.

In addition to the boat crew let us express our admiration for the team of volunteers you assembled for this particular medical rotation. Each one proved to be dedicated and highly experienced. We saw a level of commitment not often seen in today's world. We were all blessed by the great attitudes of each one.

On this trip the team was able to visit eight islands each with varying needs of medical service. Cheryl as a medical professional was able to assist in the diagnoses and dispensing of the medications. Tim was assigned to assist with vision evaluations. The high number of patients seen in that short period of time was hard to believe. The volunteers worked virtually dawn to dusk to do their best to see everyone they could. On most of these remote islands, the team was able to evaluate over 70% of the total population. They were evaluated and treated for vision, dental and general medical condition. These evaluations along with the treatment history was recorded and given to the health ministry of Fiji for further follow up.

As for the villagers, they were amazing people. We were consistently welcomed and thanked for our services. Each volunteer will have their story to tell. My most memorable was giving adjustable glasses to a 15 year old girl that allowed her to regain her distance vision from 20/200 to 20/20. The smile on her face as she looked out at the beach and her beautiful island was something I will not soon forget. I also heard the story of our Dental team who had a younger villager, perhaps in his early thirties, who could not remember a time without mouth pain. They extracted 8 bad teeth from him that day. It will probably not only improve his mouth pain but his general health as well.

These are just a couple of examples of many life changing events that took place because of the effort of the team. The people we met helped to change our thinking on many things. We met the Chief of each island we visited. We made a house call on the mother-in-law of the Chief of one island . She was 104 years old. She was still mentally very sharp with only a mobility problem. She welcomed us to her home and sat on the floor in the traditional Fiji manner as we diagnosed her vision. She was having trouble reading her Bible. We fitted her with upgraded reading glasses and as we left, she gave us her blessing.

Richard, one of the after effects of an experience like this is to open ones eyes to the world. It certainly opened ours. For a long time you have held the vision to be someone who not only sees a need but actively finds a way to meet it. I know your vision is even greater than Tonga and Fiji. I know you will succeed in your efforts to help people in far flung reaches to be able to have a better life.

Thank you for your efforts and for allowing us to be a part of your vision.

Sincerely,

Dr. Cheryl Striplin
Tim Ewell

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