The Story of Pono Jesse – Fiji 2015

November 2015 | Patient stories, Stories from the field

By Kate Bryant

Former Vice President of Development

Bula! That means ‘hello’ in Fijian!

When we first said “bula” to Pono Jesse, he and his family had traveled for hours by foot, car, and boat. They journeyed to Vanua Levu, the second largest island in Fiji, seeking eye care from the free SEE clinic there. A father of three, Pono Jesse aspired to become a geography teacher. But he had injured his eyes and lost his vision in two different accidents. He feared that doctors might not be able to help him, and that he would never achieve his dream.

Upon learning that SEE would be holding a clinic in southern Fiji, Pono Jesse and his family did not hesitate. They walked – and sailed – for days, until they reached the site. Unfortunately, he had injured both his eyes as a rugby player, leaving him with zero vision in one eye and 20/100 in the other. SEE volunteer surgeon Randall Goodman, M.D., repaired one, then scheduled the other for a corneal transplant, to be performed by a future mission team.

He and his family were thrilled. Now he can study to become a teacher. He can support his wife and children, and pass along his passion for learning to countless more children!

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