Blue blazers, tan pants, white shirts and Rotary lapel pins, it was certainly not difficult to spot this group of Rotaplast volunteers last night, even in the San Francisco International Airport. Of course, 32 boxes of medical supplies and our accompanying luggage also made us a hard group to miss.
As we began to gather it was quickly apparent from the warm smiles, hearty handshakes and comfortable hugs that most of this group have done medical missions before, in fact, numerous times before. For the few of us that were here for the first time these seasoned teammates worked hard to put us at ease and welcome us. There were stories, laughter, a sense of anticipation and a real feeling of joy.
These volunteers are doctors, nurses, dentists and non-medical assistants, some strangers some not, coming together to help people and in turn being helped themselves. It was also very clear that the main reason these individuals go on these missions year after year is simply because they they love their patients, the infants, children and young adults they have come in contact with over the years, many whose lives they have continued to follow long after the mission ended.
The events of the evening went relatively smoothly although I’m sure for our wonderful mission director Evelyn Abad it must at times have felt like herding cats.
It was wheels up at 10:50 p.m. where since that time all have been relaxing comfortably (13 plus hours) aboard Philippine Airlines. Currently it is Tuesday morning, October 7th, 2014 at 2:00 a.m. we are somewhere just above Guam, 35,000 feet in the air and are estimated to arrive Manila in just over 3 hours. There is a brief lay over until our flight departs for Cebu City where the schedule for the day looks nothing short of hectic, but be assured there is no one among us that can’t wait to get there.
Meet our two medical leads…Rod Simonds, Medical Director from San Francisco, California and Carolyn Walchak, Head Nurse from Spokane Washington. They will be keeping us all very busy for the next 10 days…