You would never believe we were gathering at 3:30 am at San Francisco International Airport by the lively energy. Must be the excitement of knowing we will soon be using our skills to change the lives of children in Pereira, Colombia. Most of our team has been on multiple missions and as each person arrived, old friendships were renewed.

Part of the joy of participating on a Rotaplast mission is experiencing the comraderie of the team. We all support each other, both professionally and personally, to achieve maximum success. Dr. Ron Gemberling, Medical Director, got the morning off to a festive start by mixing mimosas – orange juice and champagne – for everyone.

It's a tradition he's had on every mission since the late '90s. Ellen Boesner, Ward Coordinator, sweetened us up with home-baked pumpkin muffins.


Part of the challenge of each mission is transporting about 35 very large, very heavy boxes of medical supplies. All went incredibly smooth, guided by Orlando Arce, Mission Director, and Roberto Padilla, Quartermaster.


The complete team of 17 medical and 6 nonmedical volunteers joined together in Miami for the final leg to Cali, Colombia where we were graciously met by members of Club Rotario Perla del Otun. Our welcoming committee included Rotary District 4280 Governor Maria Doris Lopera, Alberto Velez, Mario Angel, Dario Gasca and Olmedo Ochoa.

After a good night's rest and breakfast buffet at Hotel Los Fundadores, we're ready for the four  hour drive to Pereira.

Jerry Meshulam, Photojournalist