A few of us flew over the vastness that is Brazil as the sun was rising over the Atlantic then lunched in the coastal port city of Salvador while we waited for the late afternoon arrival of the team. The disconnect between our Portuguese phrasebook and effective communication, as well as the realization that Spanish is not a viable alternative, was quickly realized.
The international make-up of our team meant that everyone had been traveling for at least 28 hours by the time that bags were collected and we were greeted by Adenilson, Mayara and Richard, our local hosts. Drooping eyes brightened as acquaintances from previous missions were renewed and everyone's spirits were reinvigorated as we boarded our bus for the final 8 hour leg of our journey to Aracaju.
Unfortunately, mission director Dan Bronson and surgeon Todd Farnworth were still in Sao Paulo with our one ton of medical supplies spread in 37 boxes, negotiating last minute custom's snafus. As the mission gets underway, special recognition must be given to Rotaplast staffers Paola Ferraté and Julian Arnaud for extraordinary efforts to secure our visas with additional thanks to the Brazilian consulate in San Francisco. It gave new meaning to nail-biting trip planning with visas being overnighted to the team the day before departure.
At our roadside dinner stop on the way to Aracaju, head nurse Kim Capps started polling the team to find out what medical supplies, such as stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs, might have been brought personally. Since our boxes were still in transit, we may need to improvise a bit for our pre-op clinic tomorrow. The expertise and resourcefulness of a Rotaplast team is a beauty to behold.
Fatigue and travel frustrations will have faded as our band of 27 volunteers arrives bright and early tomorrow morning for the pre-op clinic, anxious to give new smiles to the waiting children.
Jerry Meshulam, Photojournalist