Being a first timer, I've been wondering how these trips are possible. The organization of it all, the determination and stamina of the doctors and nurses, the dedication of the other volunteers, how did this all happen? For this specific mission, the hospital space was donated, we were given 20 local volunteers, the Rotary advertised for months before we arrived to gather patients, and now we have a well-running surgical center where over 100 people will benefit from our mission. Obviously, a lot of the organization comes from the Rotaplast staff, shipping 37 perfectly labeled boxes with everything we need to set up a fully functioning office and operating room. None of this could be possible however, without our host and the owner of Nurture Hospital, Nasreen.
Nasreen with a picture of her father that hangs at Nurture
I asked Nasreen why she decided to open her free hospital. She has twin sons that are now getting their PhD at Cambridge. They were born premature and when they were young had a multitude of health problems. It was fortunate that she could afford to pay for their medical attention, but she wondered what would have happened if she couldn't; and that's how the idea of Nurture started. With the money she saved from owning a beauty parlor, she was able to buy the land where Nurture is located.
Through a generous donation she was able to build this five story hospital where people can receive free medical care. Her goal is to turn Nurture into a destination for international medical organizations, like Rotaplast, full time. Currently, she has three doctors and four nurses on staff. Our awesome volunteers were recruited by her sons through Skype and Facebook and her daughter helps out at the hospital.
Today, being less hectic, has been great for me as I've had time to talk with some families through our interpreters.
Shantui and her father before she went in for surgery
There's been one patient that has stood out to me since the first day, and today I was able to talk to her father about their history. Shantui is a 12 year old girl from the hill tracts outside the city. Her town is called Khagrachari and it is five hours by car from the hospital. She was carried into our intake day because her legs were so badly burned she could not walk. The doctors were able to perform a skin graft and fix her legs yesterday, so hopefully one day she can walk. The pediatrician, Len, and I were curious as to how her legs were damaged, and the family's general background. Her father was able to tell us with the help of our interpreter, Rayhanna. When Shantui was one, a land till fell on her legs. Because the family had no money, she was not taken to the hospital and has suffered ever since.
She had eight brothers and sisters, however four have passed away from illness and lack of money for medical care. We wondered how the family was able to afford this five hour trip to Nurture Hospital. There is an army camp not far from the village where they live. The army men saw posters that the Rotary had posted and offered to drive the two down to be examined. While here, since the father has no money, Nasreen has been providing him food.
The outpouring of support is so incredible here in Bangladesh, it is inspiring. A volunteer brought crayons to give out to the older children and asked me to bring them up to Shantui. She had no idea what they were. I learned from the interpreter that she had never seen crayons before. I drew her a heart and a sun to show her how they worked and this girl smiled for the first time in three days. She grabbed an orange crayon and wouldn't put it down. Every day has seen a new, humbling experience for me here in this beautiful country. When we asked Shantui's father what he thinks will happen in the future, all he said was that he is so happy and thankful now. And that he will pray for us.
Shantui's first time using crayons (I drew the heart and sun for her to show her how its done :-))
Today was a great day, and we even made it back to the hotel before the last bits of sun were gone.
As a sneak peek for tomorrow's blog, here is my little love bug Simran before she went into surgery today. This girl has the most beautiful and expressive eyes I've seen on a baby (she's 11 months). If you walk up to her, she lights up and smiles at you then gets shy and cuddles into her mother or father's chest. I adore her, and so does everyone else.
After photo of Simran will be posted tomorrow.