It is already Saturday, the half-way point of our mission. The cooperation among team members and the warmth of the Guatemalan people are making this mission a tremendous success.

This morning volunteers paid special attention to a seventeen-year-old single mother, Glenda. She is just a child herself, lives with her mother in Escuintla and cleans houses part-time. Like many of the other parents, she came here by herself on a bus. Glenda only has a fourth grade education and can barely read and write. But Glenda had the initiative and determination to find help for her darling six-month-old, Kiristel.

This morning, the ward was filled with children recovering and children awaiting surgery. Each small ward room holds three beds or cribs. The space is filled with supporting family members, Rotary volunteers and Guatemalan nursing students. The chaos doesn’t seem to bother anyone.

Fourteen-year-old Kenneth is a brave boy. Today he underwent the fourth surgery of his life. He was born in Morales, Izabal, a city on the Atlantic coast of Guatemala. Monday, he and his mother took a five hour bus ride to the hospital after hearing about the mission on radio and television. He met with our dentist Dr. Brian Dugani before surgery. Kenneth had his bilateral cleft lip repaired when he was a baby. He was a toddler when he had cleft palate surgery. Just a few years ago Kenneth had nose surgery to improve his speech and breathing.

Today, Kenneth had a bone graft from his hip done by Dr. Oren Leong; anesthesia was administered by Dr. Helen Vajk; and two teeth were extracted by Dr. Brian Dugani. When Kenneth arrived in the operating room he started to tear up a bit. Translator Paola Ferraté was summoned; soothing music was turned on; nurse Lois Borie comforted him. Dr. Debra Johnson stayed until the boy was well settled.

Kenneth’s mother doesn’t work outside the home and told us that Kenneth’s father is a “cowboy.” Kenneth’s mother was not able to take him to a doctor between these surgeries. She was told he will need a fifth and final surgical repair to his nasal passage in a few years.

Kenneth does very well in school and loves “football” (we call it soccer). His mother secured a doctor’s note so Kenneth will have a written excuse for missing school. He said he wants to be an agricultural engineer when he grows up. Given his bravery and his mother’s perseverance, he will likely accomplish his dream.

The team completed sixteen surgeries today. We all look forward to our day off tomorrow. We are going to tour the historic town of Antigua. Please visit for more photos and information about the team members.