By Jozette KARAGUOZIAN
That’s exactly what Jerold and Dorothy Beeve have done for the past 24, going on 25, years: stay focused. They have remained focused on giving the gift of sight to the underprivileged Fijian people. On a trip to Turtle Island, Fiji in 1989, Dr. Jerold E. Beeve, M.D. and his wife Dorothy Beeve, R.N. were surprised at the desperate need for vision care within the island community. That’s how the Beeve Foundation was born.
Nearly 25 years later they have helped over 28,000 Fijian people with vision care. To commemorate this milestone, on Sunday a celebration of the tireless work the Beeve Foundation does for the Fijian people was held at the Oakmont Country Club. With its manicured golf course encompassing the venue, the country club was the perfect location to appreciate the gift of sight.
Jim Jensen, the president of the foundation and a good friend of the Beeves, explained that the Beeve Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides free eye care services. Not only do the Foundation’s doctors perform cataract surgeries and corneal transplants amongst many other procedures, they provide confidence where it is lacking. Imagine a world of darkness and the strife that comes along with it. They provide a service to allow light back into the lives of those suffering from eye ailments.
“A labor of love” is how Jensen described the Foundation.
The evening began with Jensen at the podium, first acknowledging past president Douglas Albright, who passed away early this year. He then introduced a surprise prepared for the Beeves: emails from friends and colleagues around the world that praised and thanked the Beeves for their work with the Fijian people.
Sentiments included, “The greatest possession in life is the gift of sight” and “May God bless Fiji forever more, may God bless the Beeve Foundation forever.” Emily Beeve, granddaughter of Jerold and Dorothy, spoke about her time traveling to Fiji in 2013 to help with the clinic.
“Growing up, I always enjoyed hearing stories of the Beeve Foundation,” she said. “[The 2013 trip] opened my eyes to Fiji and the amazing work my grandparents do. It was transformative for me … I was able to see the stories I had heard.”
Jitendra Singh, Fiji Trade commissioner, took the podium, sharing that the people in Fiji cannot comprehend that there is help for their vision ailments, that these problems can be fixed.
“Thanks on behalf of the government of Fiji, the people, myself and my wife for the dedicagion [of the Beeves],” Singh said. He then presented the Beeves with an etched glass award thanking them for their work and dedication in Fiji.
Dr. Mario Meallet had similar sentiments. Meallet, one of the ophthalmologists for the Beeve Foundation, explained that the need for vision care is “so profound.”
“I want to recognize the people who don’t go on the trips, the behind-the- scenes [workers],” he said. He acknowledged the many volunteers who give their time so honorably and graciously, concluding that, “blindness is a condition that affects the whole family.”
“In a course of a few days, [lives are] transformed. It restores not just sight, but dignity and independence,” he said.
Ervin Fang is another ophthalmologist with the Beeve Foundation. He spent 11 years with the Foundation and on Sunday had a multimedia presentation showing photos along with video of highlights from their many visits to Fiji. These included the different facilities used to provide vision care treatment, patients and even the surgeries. Not only was it an inside look at what the Beeve Foundation provides, it offered a peek into the cuisine and culture of the Fijian people.
He ended his presentation with a quote: “Your life won’t ever be perfect, but it can be purposeful.”
At the end of the evening, Dorothy and Jerold shared their appreciation for those who celebrated with them.
“Thanks to all of you being here today,” said Dorothy. “We appreciate it.”
“Dorothy and I are truly overwhelmed … without words,” added Jerold.
When asked of the future of the Beeve Foundation, Dorothy said she sees the foundation continuing with “the younger doctors and my son” leading it and continuing their sustained compassion and efforts.
For more information, visit http://www.fiji4sight.org/.