Up once again at 5am. Last night we celebrated Dr. Al Goldberg's 78th birthday and his 28th year doing medical missions. Way to go Al !!!
Frankin is a 17 month old boy with a cleft lip. Unlike 99% of the other families, Frankin and his family live in this area so they didn't have to deal with a long trip. Frankin's mom is 17 years old and just has one boy. She, like many of the other moms, looks and is so young. There were tears in mom's eyes, happy tears when her son was brought to her after surgery. She said to us, "May God always help and protect you. I know this operation is very expensive and I cannot think of the right words to thank you for all you did for my Frankin. I have no means to pay you for this operation, only my prayers for you".
Diana is a 3 year old little girl with a cleft palate. She has 2 brothers and a sister. It took mom and her 9 hours to get here by bus and walking. Of course the operation to close the palate was a success. Mom says " Thank you for all you have done, and may God bless you all with a long and healthy life so you can continue to help the poor people of Guatemala. If Rotaplast did not come and fix our children's mouths they would never be able to live a normal life. Thank you for being so kind to me and Diana while we are here. Thank you for giving us food while we are waiting for our children to be fixed".
Alexander is a 16 month old boy with a cleft palate. His 18 year old mother walked and hitchhiked here for over 4 hours. Alexander is an only child. I spoke to Mom after surgery and she said, "May God bless you for all the help you gave us, and for making my son normal to live a normal life".
Kala is a 9 year old girl with a lip scar and cleft palate. This is the 3rd surgery Rotaplast has performed on this child over the past 4 years.
She is one of four children, 2 boys and 2 girls, and she is the only child with these problems. The family was told of our Rotaplast mission by the priest in their church. She had both the cleft lip and cleft palate repaired. The mother said, "She looks very pretty," and then she said to me, "Thank you from all of us mothers for all that you do for us, especially for those who have the special hands to make these miracles on our children."
Personal Commentary (by Bob Araldi – Mission Photojournalist):
I have to tell you, when you talk with these parents you realize how frightened they are. Keep in mind, they are waiting in a pre-op room. They then give their child to the nurses who take them to this unknown area. Now they wait for 1 or 2 hours and wonder if their child will come back. We take our children to the hospital with great confidence that they are in good hands, but these folks really don't know, and they certainly don't know anything about the medical implications of surgery like this, no matter what they are told prior to surgery. So when they first see their child after surgery, they are still in some level of shock, and they don't really know what to do or say. The doctor will ask them, "Are you pleased with the surgery?" They have to be shaken out of their trance, and finally the smile appears. You will see it in some of the photos, in the before and after pictures, and in some cases the dramatic changes.
Florencia is a 6 year old girl that came to us with a cleft palate. She is one of 11 children, and the only one with this problem. It took her and her mom 15 hours to get here. They had to take 2 buses from their home to Guatemala City, then hitchhike the rest of the way to Retalhuleu. The mom said "Thank God, he got us here without any problems." She is very happy with the results of the surgery. She wishes us a safe trip home and prays that God will bring us back to help others.
The Catholic Church in their village, about 10 hours away, had arranged for a mini van and driver/interpreter (to interpret between Spanish and Canhobal, a Mayan dialect) to take these two families here to the hospital in Retalhuleu. One of the children, Angel, is a 3 year old boy who had a cleft palate. He is one of 7 children, 4 boys and 3 girls, and is here with his mother. While interviewing mom, I would ask Bella a question, Bella would translate the question to Spanish, and the Mayan interpreter would ask mom the question in Canhobal, and the answer came back through the reverse channel. Angel's mom, like most moms here is a very quiet person, but she is so grateful to us for helping fix her son's cleft palate. Now he has a palate.
End of day 3
Day 3 of surgery ends with 16 surgeries successfully completed. Lips, palates, and noses put back to the way they're suppose to be. Truly amazing!