By Day Four, the team set into a practiced rhythm. We arrived at the hospital around 6:30 in the morning. The day began with a quick breakfast, then the pediatricians met with the patients who had spent the night awaiting surgery today. The surgical team prepared the operating rooms, and the surgeries began. The pediatricians also examined those patients who underwent surgery yesterday… Oh and the great news – the remainder of our medications from the airport arrived finally.
Our medical team was pleased to find that the patients who had surgery yesterday were doing well. For example, Dahyrin was sleeping well in the arms of her mother, Katerina (whose story we told in Day 3). Katerina had no food last night and had little rest, but she is ready to take that two hour bus ride home with her precious Dahyrin.
Yesterday we wrote about a mother, Katerina. Today fathers grabbed our attention:
Mayan father, Byron Escalonte, showed obvious adoration of his family. Guatemala is primarily made up of Mayans (60%) and Ladinos (close to 40%, meaning those of European descent). Many Mayans have large families; the men are the providers, and the mothers typically run the household. Byron arrived with his wife, one of his daughters and two-and-a-half-year-old Christian who needed cleft lip surgery. Two other children stayed at home with an aunt. Byron works in a laundry and his wife creates pottery. Christian’s mother wore a traditional Mayan dress, called traje. Christian’s younger sister was strapped to his mother by a rectangular piece of material called a tzute.
Two years ago Byron heard about Rotaplast from a family friend. Christian had his cleft lip repaired by a Rotaplast team in 2007; he returned this year for repair of his palate. Byron said that his family did not have money for these surgeries. Without Rotaplast, Christian never would have had his cleft lip and palate repaired. In very sincere tones, Byron express his gratitude to Rotaplast for helping his son and the Guatemalan people.
During discharge today, Byron received instructions from our speech therapist, Kathi Hoffer. Speech therapy is critical for the success of treatment for cleft lips and palates. Palate patients such as Christian must work on quality sound production. Playing with sounds is actually an important aspect of speech therapy. Kathi gave directions to all the parents as part of the discharge process, including a handout in Spanish with illustrations which demonstrate speech exercises. In addition to Rotaplast, Kathi devotes her time and energy to Earth Speak, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting speech remediation. Another of Kathi’s patients was baby Jeremy, who yesterday had his first surgery, a lip repair. Kathi asked Jeremy’s father to encourage his baby to babble; this is an important precursor to speech. Jeremy’s father is a twenty-one-year-old who works in a cold storage facility. He is the primary caretaker for Jeremy during this journey because his wife is ill. He was extremely pleased to have heard about Rotaplast on television.
Another successful day, 17 children received surgery and we head back to the hotel in pouring rain. Please go to www.guatemala2009.com to meet team members and view more photos.