Rotaplast halts traffic on the streets
of Chittagong to recruit new patient
At the conclusion of Day 1, Clinic Day, a transport van carrying nine team members was returning to the team's hotel. Careening through a sea of humanity, rickshaws and motorized vehicles on congested Chittagong streets, Speech Pathologist, Susan Whitaker (Redding, CA) spotted a young Rickshaw driver with a bi-lateral cleft lip. "Stop this van" yelled colleague Surgeon Sib Schepel, MD (The Netherlands) to the driver. Out jumped Susan and three team members and confronted a surprised and thoroughly confused Abdul, an eighteen year-old Bangladesh rickshaw driver. They quickly learned that Abdul was one of five children in an economically challenged family. He began working as a rickshaw puller at age 15 since his family was unable to fund his schooling. The family lives in a rented house and pay $1400 Taka monthly or about $21 USD. Abdul earns approximately $26 USD monthly. Throughout his life, Abdul has been subject to unrelenting teasing and unbearable humiliation. In spite of his cleft lip, his speech is clear. He's able to communicate effectively with his customers. After a brief conversation, Susan convinced Abdul that Rotaplast could repair his cleft lip that would result in a life changing experience for him.
Abdul's father, Abdur Rahman, is overjoyed at the prospect of Rotaplast repairing his son's cleft lip. In 1971, Abdur fought as a freedom fighter in his country's liberation movement against Pakistan. He is a day laborer and the family doesn't own anything. He realizes Rotaplast will provide an extraordinary gift to his son that he would never be able to provide.
Huge turnout greets Rotaplast Volunteers on Clinic Day
The turnout of prospective patients for Day 2, Clinic Day, exceeded all expectations. Over 250 children and young adults accompanied by their parents waited patiently beginning in the early morning hours for Patient Registration to begin. Here is just two of the many new patients as they anxiously await the needed medical treatment and care they will receive from the Rotaplast Mission Team:
James Taylor, Photojournalist