Glaids Preciosa and her mother, Nancy Elenora, are an absolutely beautiful and charming duo. Nancy expressed fear for her daughter’s future. She elaborated by telling us her life story. Nancy’s mother got married and had 3 children, of which Nancy was the youngest. Her father left the family after her birth and her mother quickly remarried. At age 10 her stepfather pulled her out of school to work, in order to help feed the family, consequently she never learned how to read and write. Nancy’s mother got pregnant with two more children a year after remarriage. Two years later, she got pregnant with quadruplets. Unfortunately a pair of the children were born with epilepsy. Later that year Nancy’s stepfather kicked Nancy and all of her siblings from her mother’s first marriage out of the house. Shortly after her stepfather left her mother. She could not move home because her mother could not afford to support any more children.
At age 14 Nancy got pregnant with Gladis Preciousa who was born with both a cleft lip and palate. All of Nancy’s pay goes towards food, she can’t afford to send Gladis Preciosa to school. Nancy fears and hopes that her daughter won’t end up in the same situation as her. Unfortunately, Nancy was not able to get off work for the pre-clinic and was registered for surgeries during the second week of our stay in Guatemala. Unfortunately, we do not have any free days to operate on Gladis Preciosa. We told her that she is the first on the list next year when we come to Retalhuleu, Guatemala. Nancy also told us that she couldn’t afford transportation home. Two of our absolutely lovely volunteers offered to give her a ride. We look forward to seeing both Gladis Peciosa and Nancy next year and hope the best for them.
Usually Rotaplast operates on small children. Olga was an exception. She had a very prominent aged cleft lip and palate that had never had surgery. At age 44 she is the oldest patient that we have had this far. She lives and works in a small village in the country and came to the hospital with her mother in law who could not speak a word of Spanish, only a local dialect called Quiche. She has been married for 22 years and has two children, but has never kissed her husband.
Before her surgery, she asked for two pictures. One of herself and mother-in-law, the other a close up of her face. She said that when she returned to her village she wanted to run through it shouting waving the photos above her head. We were able to operate on her cleft lip, but she was past the point where palate surgery was feasible. We gave her a obturator to fill the hole in her palate, to help with her speech and swallowing.
After the operation, the surgeons gave her a mirror to view her reflection. Immediately, Olga’s hands joyously shot up in the air and she began praising God. Olga stayed two nights in the hospital, every day she thanked every staff member she saw and asked to have pictures taken of herself. Before she left I printed another picture of her after surgery. Olga and her mother-in-law left the hospital excited to display her new smile to her children, husband, and village.