DSC_9509Before I end the posts from this mission, I want to give an update on Hector. You may recall that he was profiled when Rotaplast was last in Pereira in July 2011. Hector has had eight surgeries to correct his cleft lip and palate. The last two surgeries, including yesterday's, were provided by Rotaplast.

Hector has now completed dental school and is a practicing dentist who has also volunteered with Rotaplast during the last two missions. He's considering furthering his studies to become an orthodontist so he can help children with clefts, both in Colombia and abroad. His mom, Maria, is very proud of Hector.

The mission is winding down; we saw our last patient today. Tonight we'll celebrate the success of the mission, hosted by our friends of Club Rotario Perla del Otún, Distrito 4280. I am looking forward to presenting my video slide show. We'll re-live the emotions of the last 10 days and see the results of our talented team in the new smiles from both the patients and their families.

We have requested that all patients return to the hospital tomorrow morning for our final clinic. Doctors will review their progress and, based on experiences from previous missions, there will be hugs aplenty and probably a few tears as we also say our good byes.

DSC_9291An afternoon tropical cloudburst is raucously bouncing off the fiberglass patio cover outside my hotel room. Warm, humid days and nights are not how we typically experience mid-winter. Participating on a Rotaplast mission is an opportunity to leave the usual behind, working selflessly in service to others. 

The reward is experiencing the intense, heartfelt appreciation from a parent who knows that their beloved child will now have opportunities they never thought possible. A surgeon told me this morning that a mother approached him following the operation on her child. She reached out, took his hands in hers and kissed them. So goes another Rotaplast mission.

Jerry Meshulam, Photojournalist