Pedro and his wife, Dann Mari were waiting for us at the hospital with their son, Dubert, first thing Monday morning. Although it was the sixth day of our mission and the 11th time Rotaplast has come to Barquisimeto, they had just heard about it from a friend who saw a story in the newspaper.
One look at this proud family was all it took to know that we had to adjust the surgery schedule to make room them. Pedro is a farmer, hours away by bus, and it was a real hardship for them to get to the hospital. His first concern was for Dubert, the fifth of their eight children and the only with a cleft.
Patients cannot eat or drink anything on the day of surgery and Pedro met that condition. He was added to the surgery schedule for later the same day. Throughout the intake exam, Dubert was constantly hiding his face, a common stance for children his age who prefer not to be seen with their cleft lip. He was added for the following day.
The next morning during rounds, our medical director Dr. Anne Delaney handed her mirror to Dann Mari to hold up for her husband. Pedro is a man of very few words, no doubt owing to his cleft palate, but his touch on her arm and his eyes spoke volumes.
This morning, father and son were healing together in the same hospital room. I walked past the doorway and got a thumbs up from Pedro.
Jerry Meshulam, Photojournalist