Rotaplast International sends teams of medical volunteers out to the corners of the world almost every two weeks to perform cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries, for ten days at a time. Each team consists of two dozen volunteers: surgeons, anesthesiologists, pediatricians, nurses, a dentist and an orthodontist, record keepers, and various support staff. Each mission hopes to devote seven to eight full days to performing cleft palate, cleft lip and other facial plastic surgeries, primarily on young children. This is the story of the work of the team that has come to Nagamangala, India.
On August 5, 2012 the twenty-six team members converged at various points, most of us at San Francisco International Airport. Others joined us in Dubai or later at Nagamangala which is sixty miles west of Bengaluru (Bangalore) in south central India. While most came from the San Francisco bay area, others came from Texas, Arizona, Washington State, Pennsylvania, New York, and the Netherlands.
Mission Directory Sandra Lepley organizes the team at SFO.
Megan, Ali, and Greg chat during our change of flights in Dubai.
We arrived at the airport in Bengaluru at 3 AM on Tuesday, August 7 and were greeted by a dozen members of our host Rotary Club, “Bangalore North” who had made the trip to the airport in the middle of the night.
The Team is greeted and photographed at Bengaluru Airport.
A bus carried us out to the small town of Nagamangala and we settled into our quarters in the student dormitory at the medical school, next to the hospital where we would be working.
The entrance to the hospital and medical schools complex at Nagamangala
That afternoon the program officially started with a ceremony in the neighboring auditorium. Hundreds of school children, community people, and hospital staff crowded in to see and be blessed by the guest of honor, Sri Sri Sri Dr. Balangadharanatha Mahaswamijii, a holy man and the President of the trust that supports the hospital and medical schools at the site. We were entertained with music, songs, and speeches. The Sri Sri Sri then blessed each member of our team. We came forward individually and received a lei and bright orange cotton mantel or shawl placed around our shoulders.
Dr. R.K. Chetty, our team dentist receives his blessing at the opening ceremony.
Exhausted, but excited, we returned to our quarters.For most of the team, "Day 1" began on Sunday morning in the United States and ended on Tuesday night in India. We slept quite soundly that night.