“The sun goes down, the stars come up and all we have is here and now, my universe will never be the same, I’m glad you came, I’m glad you came.” This line from a song by ‘The Wanted’ plays over in my mind as we meet the little faces that have come to the post clinic. We are all so glad they came; the parents taking the brave step to bring their children in for surgery handing them over to total strangers and trusting that they would be safe. In turn, each of us are so glad we came to make a difference in a few very special little lives. All we do have is here and now and the vision of what these children may become. The chance is more than a little likely we will never see any of these small faces again but they will forever be in our memories. Today is post clinic and we are able to see most of the children that the surgeons have worked their magic on.
Children are dressed in the very best outfits they have and the parents are beaming, as the come back to where it all began for a final visit with the doctors and our entire team. It is incredible to see how quickly they are healing from surgery and collectively we wish we could see them in six months or a year’s time to really realize the impact of the change that has been made. For now we must be content to see them one last time, celebrate the moment and finally say tender farewells. Abounding With Love, the organization that has assisted over 25 of these families in participating in this Rotaplast clinic, have housed them during the week which enabled those families that live hours from Cebu to attend the post clinic. Incredibly over 90% of our patients are here today; something we are advised is a very high statistic. Here are but a few of the little souls that have stolen our hearts forever. We wish them health and happiness and in the words of Reynald before his surgery, “we wish for the other children to no longer make fun of them”. These are some of our courageous little butterflies….
We repack the 32 boxes, which are now 15 and head back to the Summit Circle to prepare for our last evening with our hosts from the Rotary Club of Cebu Port Centre and the team from the Adventist Hospital. We could not have been more warmly welcomed and looked after during our 2 weeks in Cebu City by these gracious groups and their spouses and other family members. Tonight they have planned a celebration dinner and final farewell with another wonderful meal, entertainment including 3 songs from the Mayor of Cebu City and recognition of our team by Rotary International. We will head out in various directions tomorrow with a lot of things to reflect on, not the least of which is the generosity, kindness and sincerity of all hosts from the Philippines and the non medical and non medical volunteers from the US and Canada that took time out of their regular lives to make the Rotaplast Mission possible.
There are two more of us that have not appeared on the blog. We were very fortunate on this trip to be joined by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang from MSNBC who has been embedded with Rotaplast for some time and joined us to write a few articles about this mission as well as about the resilience of the people of Cebu following the earthquake and typhoon. Francis was a great addition to the team and supplied us with wonderful stories of the area as she met with a variety of individuals from organizations that have created locally funded projects to assist their communities in their recovery. To read some of these articles over the next few weeks go to http://www.franceskaihwawang.com/
And finally myself, Ellen Walker-Matthews who came home when our club decided to sponsor this mission and said to my husband that I would really like go and am so grateful that he not only thought it was a wonderful idea but that he would join me. I had the role of photojournalist and was honored to be able to spend my trip taking pictures of our children and parents as well as our hard working team and to try to bring the story of this trip to life.(pictures will be uploaded shortly – bandwidth too small)
Our US and Canada 2014 Cebu City Rotaplast Medical Mission Team