It is difficult to summarize in 7 shots what I have witnessed and had the pleasure to document this week for the Fiji Dental & Medical Foundation.
Those pictures should give you an idea of the overall project, and how it concretely works: help the locals with free dental (and medical) treatments, in a temporary built clinic, and try to prevent further issues, most of which could be avoided with a decent dental hygiene.
So, after an early boat ride from Namotu, the dentists and doctors have treated more than 500 patients (!!!), extracted more than 200 teeth, created dozens of new dentures on the spot, and distributed heaps of tooth paste, brushes, and floss, including in the schools.
They've witnessed the increasing skin issues, high blood pressure (more than 50% of adults) and diabetes of the locals, due to high sugar foods and relatively low regime of exercising past a certain age, however young.
Once again, this project has helped the Fijians, even more than what they were able to achieve last year. How ? Because they convinced more doctors, and tried to raise more funds to get more supplies and equipment. Because this time, they also came with doctors. And what about next year ? Well, with your help, they're already thinking of doing the same, in an even better version. Maybe bringing some dermatologists who could help as well, since the skin problems are not a rare commodity…
This assignment was amazing to do, and I would work with those guys again tomorrow. It's been 4 very intense days, extremely busy, for them and for me. I apologize about not being able to shoot an update yesterday. When you depend on boats, to get back ''home'', things don't always pan out as planned.
So if you want to support them, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. ''Support'' does not necessarily mean ''money'', but it can mean ''supplies'', or it can mean ''I'm a dentist or an oral surgeon and I am keen to help'', etc…
Soon flying home…Bitter sweet.
Let me tell you a story quickly.
This is the story of 3 dudes who've been coming to Namotu for 25 years, for the waves, the climate, and the people of Fiji. One of them is a dentist back home in the US. And after about 20 years of enjoyment of the waves, they realized that their love for Fiji was going way beyond the waves & the surf only.
So they looked at how they could give back to this land that has given them so much. Being a dentist, Greg (one of the founders), realized how difficult (not to say impossible) it is for the fijians living on the islands to get any kind of dental treatment. They need to take 2 days off work, get a boat to the mainland, then taxi, then pay for the consultation, then sleep over somewhere before they can head back to the island…As a result, the dental health and hygiene here is pretty poor and a lot of the islanders suffer, often in silence, but sometimes very badly and need evacuation.
The next thing they know, they're spending all their free time and energy to raise money in the US to be able to set up a temporary dental clinic on one of the islands here. Once a year. 4 days. So they rallied dentists, GPs, & hygienists from California who all pay for their own trip, take a week off work, and donate to the association, in order to treat as many as 400 patients in 4 days (that was last year. This has been over-achieved already this week).
So in the last couple of days, I've been working with these amazing team of good hearted people who try to make a difference, at their level, with a very targetted and concrete project, that make people's life a lot healthier. I have been working alongside those guys, and tried to document this great initiative.
This week in Namotu is not your typical week of surf, sun, fish, dive, snorkel. The focus is on the people of Fiji, and that's great like that.
I'll try to share some of this work in the coming days.
The swell has died a bit…but Cloudbreak can still be quite fun when it's small (actually for me, it is the only time it's fun !).
The island is cruising at a different speed this week, and the focus for the next days is going to be very different from your normal week at Namotu. I'll tell you more about it tomorrow.
Until then, have a great day !
In this up-date, let me show you what a tropical paradise looks like.
Clear 30 degrees water: tick ! Amazingly rich surrounding reefs: tick ! 30 degrees all day: tick ! World class waves surrounding the island: TICK ! Staff that treat you like a family member: tick !
This is what it is like to be here as a guest. This is not just a holiday, it is an experience. The WOW effect for a week that makes you wanna come back and make this holiday an annual pilgrimage.
I've been on my pilgrimage, but as a photographer this time…
Have a nice day !
There is a floating moment on the island, come Wednesday/Thursday: people are in between the ''yew ! another 3 days !'' and ''Oh my god: ONLY 3 days left. I can't believe how fast it went !''.
So, everyone is making the most of every minute. And the good thing is here: you have all the means, all the toys, to enjoy every second, even if the surf is on the low side.
But tomorrow, and 4-6 ft swell, 18 sec period will hit the reef. There should be plenty of action. And Saturday, this groundswell should even get a notch bigger…which means that when the guests will be on their way to the airport, I'll probably be out there, on my own…;)
Have a nice day !