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On February 19th, 2012, a Dutch-American team met in Paris and flew to Bamako, Mali for Rotaplast’s first medical mission to the site. By all appearances, from the help of the local Rotary Club Bamako-Djoliba, and from the large number of patients screened during the first day’s pre-clinic, it was definitely the right time for this mission.

The Rotary Club members are very involved, worked hard to prepare in advance by publicizing Rotaplast’s mission widely in Mali, and pre-screened many patients. Some people traveled over 600 miles to be evaluated for surgery at the Mère-Enfant Hospital “Le Luxembourg” in Bamako. The minute our team arrived at the airport, we were greeted by the local Rotarians who immediately offered their help with everything from translations to grocery shopping, with communications happening at every level. Not only do they look after our well-being on a daily basis, but they even invited the team to their 10th Anniversary celebration! (pictured above). A perfect example of the Rotarian way of international fellowship.

The medical preparation for the mission, in the hospital and in collaboration with the management, was perfect. Our mission is driven by motivation and a passion for serving others. On pre-clinic day, over 75 people were cleared and scheduled for surgery, and on the second day, an additional 29 patients walked in and were evaluated. This will be quite a job for a medical team using only two operating tables, but we are very motivated to do as many treatments as possible, within the limits of good medical care.

On the first day of surgery 10 children were given a new smile. On the second day another 13 children were treated for clefts. The surgeons did a great job and the children were well taken care of by the other medical staff. With this schedule, we should be able to make the mission a huge success. Considering the number of patients that didn’t fit into the schedule, it looks like this site could easily benefit from another mission in the near future. Plus, the collaboration with the Rotary Club of Bamako-Djoliba and the hospital staff supports these logistics in the long-term! Despite having only two operating tables, several life-changing surgeries were done under local anesthetic, significantly brightening the lives and futures of two young men in particular.