The mission begins. Arriving at the San Francisco airport international terminal midday on Sunday it was easy to spot the Rotaplast volunteers in our navy blue and khaki. On this rare day it was twice as easy since a second mission, to Bangladesh, was also departing on the same flight. SFO is where veterans from previous missions renew friendships, swap stories and greet first-time volunteers. They’re in for an incredibly personal experience, connecting with families and giving children an opportunity for a fulfilling, productive life.
There is a smooth transition from curbside offloading of 27 boxes of medical supplies through check-in. We settled in to our seats and gave an apprehensive glance around the cabin. Are we really going to be sitting in here for the next 16 hours? Turns out the answer was no. A random security check added an extra hour of tarmac time. With a brief layover in Dubai we made it to New Delhi in a mere 22.5 hours. Gaurav Ahuja, past president of the Rotary Club of Delhi Vasant Valley and District Chair for Cleft Surgeries, along with Dr. Gargan Sabharwal, a local surgeon on our team, were there to welcome us as we emerged from customs at 2:30 am.
Our medical supplies were loaded into an ambulance for a direct trip to the Sarvodaya Hospital and the team rode by bus on the final leg of our journey to Faridabad. Today, we’ll work on resetting our internal clocks for the 13.5 hour time difference, have team meetings to review protocols and visit the hospital to lay out our plan for the upcoming surgeries. Tomorrow will be an early wake up call to set us in motion for Day 1, the opening clinic. We are ready!