When 5-year-old Kent was a baby, his parents separated. Kent and his older brother are being raised by their father as his mother had lost interest in this dear little boy with a cleft lip/cleft palate problem. Through Rotaract interpreter, Yeng, Kent’s father told me that not only does she not know that Kent is being operated on today, she does not care. He has tried three times to have Kent operated on. The first time, the organization that was in Cebu could only take 100 patients and he missed out; the second time there was some problem with scheduling, so today he is very happy that even though Kent has been NPO since 8PM last night and is incredibly hungry, this has turned out to be third time lucky!
Below: Sleep, however, helps with the hunger problem temporarily.
Kent is scheduled to have a bilateral lip and palate repair today. He has some difficulty being understood, but if they need to know what Kent is saying, his older brother seems to always know what he wants. I asked his dad if he knew what Kent wanted to be when he grew up. He laughed and said: I haven’t had a chance to discuss that with him yet! Kent's father only gets occasional work in construction, but his older brother is able to provide enough for food for the family; they all live in the original family home with Kent’s grandfather.
I spoke to Cebu Port City Rotarian, Ricky Poca, who teaches Political Science at the University of San Carlos Talamban, in Cebu, about single parent families in the Philippines. He explained that since the advent of the OSW (Overseas Workers) and a trend towards western culture, there has been an increase in the number of 'dysfunctional families' in the Philippines. The parent who is left at home will sometimes find a boyfriend or girlfriend, leaving the children to fend for themselves. Ricky has special insight into changes in family life as his wife works next door at the Women and Children’s Center with children who have been abused.
After Plastic Surgeon Dr. Janet Salomonson (of Santa Monica California) had transformed Kent's face and palate with magical precision, I visited him in the Recovery Room, where my Rotarian friend and former Rotaplast team member (Cebu 2008) from Comox BC, Bent Harder, presented him with a T-shirt he had brought from Canada. Bent has worked tirelessly on eight missions and has been an energetic fundraiser for Rotaplast for many years. It was one of his presentations to the Rotary Club of Oak Bay (Victoria) that convinced me that this was a project that was so worthwhile that I wanted to become involved. Kent's dad was so happy when he saw his visually transformed little boy, it brought out some very strong emotions in the Recovery Room! And that's what Rotaplast is all about.