They say it takes a village to raise a child, the same is true with the patients that come to the Rotaplast clinic. Many times patients live hours to days away from the hospital. Friends and family members of the patients often hear about Rotaplast’s presence in their country and go above and beyond to make sure their loved ones receive free surgery. We have heard many heartfelt stories about helping hands coming together to get patients to the Rotaplast clinic.
Julio Mendez and his father Antonio heard about Rotaplast through Julio’s schoolteacher, Mayra. Julio was constantly teased at school – his cleft lip and palate made it extremely difficult for him to enjoy the company of others. I asked him if he liked to talk and he violently shook his head no. He is a sweet kind and happy kid that unfortunately lives in the shadow of his cleft lip and palate.
Julio and his father live 8 hours away from Retalhuleu and could not afford the transportation to the hospital. His schoolteacher contacted her medical school, Centro Universitario de ortiente (UNORI), and told the secretary Julio’s heart felt story, who passed the story on to five other staff. They all pulled their money together to pay for transportation for Julio. They even had two wonderful interns Analilia Vargasl and Ana Qunito accompany Julio and his father to the hospital.
All together it took 8 individuals to get Julio to the Rotaplast clinic. The locals here really appreciate Rotaplast’s presence in Guatemala and are most certainly doing their part to take advantage of our life changing services.
After Juan Carlos and his Uncle arrived at the pre-clinic, Juan Carlos was operated on later in the week; little did we know his brilliant smile hid a touching story. Minutes before he was discharged from the hospital, the president of the local Lions Club came to visit. He paid for Juan’s transportation to the clinic after hearing his story. Juan’s father left his family, leaving his wife to raise their three children alone.
Juan is the oldest of the three. Two years ago Juan and his two brothers watched as their mother was gunned down. She died in front of them. Juan and his two brothers sat with their mother's body for 2 days until their uncle came to visit. Large tears streamed down Juan’s uncle's face as the man from the Lions Club told the story. Instantaneously everyone in the room began to weep. It is amazing to see how the Lions Club trusted Rotaplast in order to provide for Juan Carlos. It is great to witness both organizations bonding over service.