The walls of the “Conference Room” at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu are plastered with cute drawings from the patients. The volunteer Rotarians working in the ward had handed out coloring pens and paper, and some of the kids had drawn thank-you pictures.
One young lady, Jessica, drew a cat and a dog and wrote: “To all doctor of rotaplas. Thank you for your helping for me … you give me a chance to voice fixed and possible back normal. I never forget this time to help me. This is my great day … thank you to all doctor and volunteer – to all doctors and volunteers- good heart! …. WE LOVE YOU! Jessica Celocia.” Jessica is 19. She is here with her twin sister, Jezebel, from Lapu-lapu, a town about half an hour from Cebu City. Jessica and Jezebel look very similar and both are very pretty. Jessica’s greatest wish is to be “normal.” She wants to work, but currently, with her palate problem, she is unable to get a job, mostly because of her inability to speak properly. Other missions come to Cebu City, but for some reason Jessica’s repair has not been a priority. The thought was that even with the cleft palate repair, without speech therapy her speech will not improve. A family friend from Australia, Mr. Rick Black, has been pushing to have Jessica put on a list for surgery and is willing to find speech therapy help for her; but four times, her case has been denied. So imagine her joy when she found out that this time, she made the list for a repair. Rosalie, our assistant mission director, took to Jessica and has been following her progress. She was there along with twin sister Jezebel when the surgery finished, and with the recovery room nurses, Joanne and Margaret, and local nurses, Ean and Von, helped her through the anaesthetic recovery period. Her other "biggest wish" after her palate repair is to see her mom and dad who are with the rest of the family back in Lapu-lapu.
This afternoon, one of the Cebu City Rotarian’s wives, Jojo Hong, a civil engineer by profession, brought along another set of twins, twelve-year-olds Rose Mary and Mary Rose. They had received palate repairs last year. Rose Mary and Mary Rose live in extreme poverty. Jojo has undertaken to make sure they get a decent meal every day, and is responsible for them having had their palates repaired last year by a Rotaplast team. When their mother didn’t bring them to the pre-clinic, Jojo sent her office staff out to find them. When Jojo brought them here today, they recognised Dr. Rosie, a familiar face from last year. The tears began to flow – they were so overcome with happiness to see her. Dr. Rosie is an orthodontist from Philadelphia who has been on several Rotaplast missions. The two girls sang beautifully for us. A year ago, this would not have been possible, but thanks to wonderful, caring people like Jojo and many other volunteers both in Cebu and from afar, miracles can happen.
Today the Rotaplast team completed fifteen operations at Vincente Sotto – fifteen more lives that will be changed forever.