Its been an incredible journey but the team has arrived in Chittagong, Bangladesh! We are currently acclimating to time, temperature and pollution in our beautiful hotel, Well Park. Having just finished lunch, the medical team has been spending time organizing the schedule for tomorrow's hectic day.
Upon our arrival at Chittagong International Airport, we were greeted by the enthusiastic Rotary Club of the area. After gathering all 30+ mission boxes from the baggage claim, the team left customs and was immediately given beautiful leis, the most lush and hearty and wonderful smelling leis I have ever seen.
The drive to the hotel from the airport was relatively long, but great for me to get to know the people in my car. I, being neither a Rotarian nor a medical specialist, have had a great time learning about these amazing volunteers and why they choose to take their own time and money to help children in other countries. One surgeon even said he wishes he could retire early just to volunteer full time, and in response, an anesthesiologist said that's exactly what he did. The passion and love that I have already witnessed amongst these volunteers is incredible, and I can't wait to see their hard work benefit the lives of over 100 children in these next two weeks.
About Chittagong so far: I've never seen so many people smile at foreigners. The driving is frightening, the roads clogged with rickshaws, tuk-tuks, cars, vans and buses with not a single stop light or stop sign that I could find. Apparently, the country is known for it's "rickshaw art" on the sides of rickshaws, and even big trucks. The paintings are colorful and all different. The city sits on a river and we saw so many freighters, tanks and even little wooden row boats that almost resemble decked-out gondolas, but still dwarfed by the tankers flowing up and down the river.
This was the truck that we loaded up all 30+ boxes into to go straight from the airport to the hospital.
Tomorrow is going to be a long day, apparently there are over 300 children that will be coming to the clinic to seek attention. If the surgeons perform 15 surgeries a day, which is feasible, then hopefully a big dent can be put into that number.
Until then, wish us luck on our jetlag and send good thoughts our way.
The group enjoying the first of many great meals to come in Chittagong.
p.s. "ae je" is how you say "hello"