Patient Stories

Vani’s story

Vani spent 12 years without sight because of cataracts. She’d never seen some of her grandchildren.

When our Pacific outreach team visited Rakiraki, a town on the northern coast of Viti Levu in Fiji, they met Vani.

Vani lived without sight for 12 long years. The 72-year-old grandmother spent her days “just sitting, sitting”, waiting for help from her daughter-in-law, who she relied on for almost everything.

Fiji's lack of accessible eye care means our Outreach Teams are met by queues of patients eager to receive the treatment they’ve often waited years for.

Vani had her sight restored by a Foundation-trained surgeon Dr Mandeep Kaur, right before a cyclone hit Rakiraki. Flash flooding forced the team to evacuate the hospital the day after her surgery, making her post-op check-up impossible. Word spread around Vani’s village that the eye team was in residence at the local hotel minutes down the road, so she resolved to sit and wait in the lobby, knowing the team would return.

Eventually, they did, and the doctor removed Vani’s bandage in the middle of the reception area. Her eyes squinted a few times. Then, a huge smile. Her voice crackled with emotion.

“Vinaka! Vinaka! Vinaka!” (Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!).

Now Vani can see the world, read her Bible, and rejoice in watching her grandchildren grow up.

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