"When you look at what can be accomplished by this team in an hour or two, you begin to think where else can you have as tangible an impact not just on the life of a child, but on the prospect for that child's future – their education, productivity, and their own personal contributions to the world." – Dr. Ron Gemberling, Medical Director
The truth is – there really are few environments where you can have such an immense impact in such a short time. Where you can positively change a child's future forever.
"All I do is look into the eyes of the parents and patients and they speak volumes to me. I know we're making a difference at that moment." - Dr. Ron Gemberling
That is the raw beauty of working with Rotaplast. Sure, there is no monetary compensation for what we're doing here…most volunteers may actually lose money by being away from work… but we are able to participate in and witness dozens and dozens of helpless lives being turned into hopeful and empowered lives. During clinic on Day 1, the patients steal a little piece of our hearts. From that moment on – their journey begins, and in a matter of about a week they are soon on their way to having a brand new, easier life. It is an amazing thing.
Seen above, a patient with a cleft palate has a "dingman retractor" inserted for surgery. The retractor, nicknamed "Doctor Retractor," is needed so that surgeons can have access to mend the palate.
"He's never been kissed, but now he can." – Neal Fleming, Anesthesiologist
Monika and the handsome Patch Adams (Ron) in the surgery room.
A walk-in potential patient is examined by one of our pediatricians, Christine Hodgson.
The Rotary Club of Cebu Port Center arranged a dinner at Cebu City Hall for our team where Past District Governor, Anton Florendo (above) welcomed us, highlighting that this is the 10th mission where Rotary Club of Cebu Port Center and District 7430 (Eastern PA) have worked together. Mayor Mike Rama was also present to speak about Cebu and thank us for our work.
Anton has been director of the Rotaplast missions for the last decade, and together with the other Rotarians, have arranged several mission events, a city tour and dinners among other things during our stay. They're almost too good to us. The delicious food they provide at the hospital deserves a blog in itself.
Some Rotarians perform a cappella for the guests at the dinner.
Our medical and non-medical volunteers pictured with Cebu Port Center Rotary Club.
We're already headed towards the seventh day of surgery. For those of us volunteers that haven't been on a mission before, or it's our first time in the Philippines, or maybe it's our 2nd or 3rd mission – I feel it is safe to say that the Rotaplast hook is digging deeper and deeper into our hearts and minds. I may be the youngest volunteer here, but I've had some great memories with my fellow volunteers (whom have undoubtedly become companions in a matter of days), with the patients and their wonderfully gracious families, and the generous Rotary/Rotaract members of Cebu.
More blogs to come…Cheers,