Since 2008 Enfoque Ixcán has done consulting work for another non-profit, Pacific Islands Medical Aid (PIMA). PIMA provides aid to the Northern Line Islands, which include Christmas, Fanning and Washington islands. In November 2014 Dr. Scott Pike and his wife Joene, along with Dr. Jerry Jolley, an optometrist friend and volunteer from California, traveled to the islands to provide eye care.
The Northern Line Islands are a part of the country of Kiribati, one of the poorest countries in the Pacific, if not the world. Together they span about 250 miles of ocean just north of the equator and about 1100 miles south of Hawaii.
The eye care team included Iakoba Itibita from Christmas Island. Iakoba, a nurse, received his initial eye training from Dr. Pike in 2008 and then received a scholarship to the Pacific Eye Institute in Fiji for a full year of training. The team of four examined 351 people, dispensed 267 pairs of glasses, 300 pairs of sunglasses and identified 82 patients needing eye surgeries. In the spring of 2015 PIMA will send ophthalmologists to the hospital on Christmas Island to perform the eye surgeries.
Most of the people seen had never had their eyes checked before. The two “outer” islands (Fanning and Washington) had only been visited once before, five years ago, when Dr. and Joene Pike made a previous trip. Obviously, the need was great, and the people were extremely grateful to receive care.
Getting to the “outer” islands made the trip a genuine adventure. They travelled on the sailing vessel Kwai, a small 140 foot cargo ship which delivers cargo to small islands between Hawaii and the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. Dr. Pike was often heard mumbling, “There’s a lot of water out here!”
Many thanks to PIMA, the crew of the Kwai and the doctor and nurses of Kiribati who helped with translation and patient flow.