Fiji Health

 Health Education Arts Language Traditions & Heritage of Fiji



Emi, Patrick’s mother, came to America from Fiji in 1998. She worked, paid taxes, attended church and volunteered at various organizations throughout her stay. In 2001, Patrick was born near Seattle, Washington where the doctors attending him recognized that he had Tetralogy of Fallot (four major heart defects) which required extensive treatment. Emi stayed with him in the hospital and attended to his needs around the clock but by the time Patrick was 3 months old, conventional treatment had failed and it became necessary for them to travel to San Francisco where Patrick underwent open-heart surgery. His recovery was long and difficult but Emi stayed by his side throughout his ordeal. Patrick and Emi developed a special bond during those first months of life which carries over to this day.

Patrick and Emi lived a simple but good life together until the unthinkable happened. When Patrick was 5 years old, Emi, was arrested by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) because she had failed to renew her visa. In June of 2007, an ICE raid occurred at the store where she was shopping. When she was asked to produce identification, she was found to be in violation of her Visa and was arrested. She pleaded with the officers to let her get Patrick who was left with a babysitter but they told her that “abandoned” children are a problem for State authorities, not Federal authorities. Emi was not even allowed to call the babysitter to explain what had happened to her.

To her great credit, rather than calling DSHS who would have dumped Patrick into the state foster care system, the babysitter started looking for some friend of the family to take Patrick. He stayed with a single working mom for a few months and eventually found his way to Fiji Health which found a family with 3 other boys to care for Patrick until he can be reunited with his mother in Fiji. Fiji Health has worked extensively with Patrick’s extended family in Fiji so we have been able to keep him in contact with her via telephone and mailed pictures, but reuniting them will be very difficult and costly.

Patrick is a US citizen so he will first need a US Passport in order to travel to Fiji. As you can imagine, it is complicated to say the least, for people with no parental or legal authority over a 5 year old to get him a passport. Fiji Health is not Patrick’s “parent” and Emi cannot return to the US to apply for him. Emi does not understand how to do what is required in Fiji to get the passport and it is likely that Fiji Health may need to send someone to Taveuni, Emi’s Island, and then on to Suva, where the US embassy is located, to help her through the process.

Once Patrick gets his passport, he then needs to get to Fiji. This will, of course, require sending someone with him as his escort. He will need a round-trip ticket as non-residents cannot enter Fiji without one. Once in Fiji, Patrick and his mother (who has no income) will need to establish legal residency for Patrick prior to his entry visa expiring as he is currently a foreign national with no more right to stay than any other tourist. It is important for him to establish the status before he becomes illegal in Fiji as that will significantly complicate the matter. This will likely require more than one trip from Taveuni to Suva, housing accommodations and food while there, government fees and perhaps even a bribe as Fiji's interim government is currently in turmoil following its most recent coup d'état.

Once Patrick gets his passport, gets to Fiji and establishes residency, he will need to return to the United States periodically, no less than every six months, for medical treatment related to his heart defects as there is no comprehensive treatment available to him in Fiji.


Patrick's health condition has prevented him from moving to Fiji but he is able to speak with his mother and other family in Fiji on a regular basis via Skype Video which we have set up in his mother's village. Patrick is now a big 13 year old and in seventh grade! He is living with his guardians in Edmonds, Washington where he has three "brothers" two cats, a fish and his own Fiji Room. After two years and a lot of effort Fiji Health was able to get Patrick a passport. He visited his mother for the first time in December of 2010 and returns as often as we can afford to send him. He is a musical child who loves to sing and dance, he loves to swim and jump on the trampoline, and he eats anything he can as often as he can. He has grown so much since he arrived, gaining over a foot in height and 30 pounds! His heart condition continues to be a concern and we expect more surgery is in his future.