Today is bittersweet. This is the day we break down our respective rooms that we have been accustomed to working in for the last 10 days. Today is the day when many of the patients we were able to serve came back for their final visit to the doctor. As in day one intake, there were many chairs filled with parents and children. However, there was no sadness today.
All of these children had received a procedure and were happy to see us. Picture an outdoor waiting room, filled with sunshine, families, and a Rotaplast team waiting to give them all of the gifts brought from the United States. It's the kind of waiting room we would all enjoy being in. It was like Christmas Day for these families. We gave out toothbrushes, toothpaste, silly bandz, beanie babies, balloons, a multitude of crayons, coloring books, books, plastic toys, barrettes, princess stickers, sunglasses, colorful pencils…it was a child's dream come true. The sound of laughter was everywhere with families smiling, posing for pictures, and lots of hugs and kisses.
Last night was our farewell party thrown by the Rotarians. We arrived by bus to the Volkswagen showroom. The Rotarians lined the entry way, applauding. We entered through the lines feeling like the honored guests they wanted us to be. The showroom was set up with tables with beautiful flower arrangements. We enjoyed some food and drink, and some live entertainment. There was a live singer, as well as traditional dancers. Many types of colorful drinks were on the table, and we thoroughly enjoyed our final night of hospitality from the Club Rotario Pereira del Otún. We have seen most of these Rotarians on a daily basis. This was more like a family party than a farewell.
At the party, many speeches were made about our days of service. One of the stories that stood out, was that of a young man in his 20s who had a large acid scar on the side of his face and head. When he awoke from his surgery, he said, "For the first time, I feel handsome."
We performed 137 procedures on 90 patients. Today, in Pereira, there are 90 people whose lives have been made better, whose self-esteem is a little higher when they look in the mirror, and whose families have been touched by a Rotaplast visit.