Samarians hearten the poor with timely help

A ream of medical practitioners from the Auckland based Friends of Fiji Heart Foundation Inc recently returned from its annual trip to Fiji, after conducting surgery on 40 poor and needy people with a heart condition or serious affliction.

The team, comprising some of our top medical practitioners and others deserve our accolade and appreciation, for they give their time and expertise at no cost. In fact, most of them bear their own costs relating to travel, accommodation and other items.

Their gesture, along with the support and patronage of a host of other Samaritans in the community overwhelms us. I believe that the following words of the 19th Century American poet Emily Dickinson would be remain valid until the end of humanity:

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain

Or help one fainting Robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain

The return of the medical team after a successful visit to Fiji reminds of the fact that 2010 is also coming to end. It also means that it is time to mend more hearts!

We look back over the past five years with a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that we have touched so many people by giving them a new lease of life.

A heartening idea

This idea of establishing the Friend of Fiji Heart Foundation was born in 2006 at a luncheon between a few friends, when Dr Parma Nand suggested that we take a medical team to Fiji to perform free heart operations for the poor and needy patients.

While the suggestion was commendable, the challenge of logistics was overwhelming. We therefore decided to intensify our efforts and evolve a proper plan of action with a time frame for delivery of the free service.

Among the initial issues that occupied our attention were (a) establishment of a Trust, complying with all the relevant rules and regulations (b) identification of a team of about 40 members including medical practitioners (c) procuring equipment and (d) mobilisation of at least $120,000 to meet travel, accommodation, freight, insurance and other costs.

We raised $85,000 through several charity functions and generous public donations to accomplish the first mission.

But concern over the sustainability of the worthy project remained.

However, God’s Grace, community goodwill, Fiji Government’s support and donations from organisations such as Fiji Water Foundation in Fiji have been helping us to send a medical team every year. So far, about 140 surgeries (including 40 last month) have been performed on poor and needy patients in Fiji.

I am sure Dr Nand and his team would have been amazed at how a little heartbeat of desire throbbed its way into an accomplishment of great significance.

Diverse skills

A large measure of the success of this project was also due to the diverse skills and expertise of the Trustees of the Foundation. We have an accountant, a logistical specialist, a solicitor and successful businessmen and other professionals who render free services, performing all the tedious and time-consuming administrative tasks.

We need to critically review our modus operandi to continuously improve our processes to face the existing and future.

We should seriously consider encouraging the youth to be involved in the Project.

With their abundant energy, grasp of technology and innovative mindset, our young men and women will be able to bring the necessary skills to meet the challenges

For now, the march goes on. It is time again to roll up our sleeves and get ready for this year’s programme to ensure that help is rendered to the increasing number of deserving patients in Fiji.

Despite the prevailing economic downturn, the community has demonstrated its solidarity in providing the necessary resources.

The Fiji Water Foundation has been a savior, providing substantial funds and offering the services of its Chief Executive David Roth as a Trustee. Their generosity and commitment overwhelms us.

Kirit Patel is a Trustee of the Friends of Fiji Heart Foundation. The photograph here shows the founding members (from left) Deepak Tahal, Bhupendra Patel, Dr Vinod Singh, Dr Parma Nand, Robert Khan, Vinod Kumar, Deepak Singh, Kirit Patel, Navin Prakash, Jai Patel and Ambedh Sharma. Deepak, Bhupendra and Robert have since resigned as Trustees.

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