It is Sunday, and the crew has been given a much needed day of rest.  The plan is to go see the Taj Mahal, but first, the surgeons need to check on their patients from the day before.

We got some local press:

Rotaplast Camp for Cleft Palate & Burns Free Surgery Camp for Public

We have a poet among us who captured the Pre-Clinic day, Richard Shope, III, PhD:

Fast Forward, Screening Day.

My role was to escort patients from the long lines to the meeting with the doctors making the final determination. They had met with the surgeons, they had taken their vital signs, now did it all add up to a go for surgery, or not?

I was one of the gatekeepers in their harrowing family journey to get to this point, eyes filled with hope that this next door would open them to the opportunity for a medical miracle.

I did not see a long line of victims. I saw empowered people taking action for what we take for granted, seeking medical care to improve their lives, seeking services they cannot afford directly or through insurance or governmental programs– yes, seeking a medical miracle.

I did not see victims. I saw resilience in action, survivors within their own world in the normalcy they have come to know, taking action beyond existential acceptance, hoping to achieve a new normal, mostly to gain a modicum of improvement to gain access to greater well-being in their lives.

I was not feeling sorry for them; I was feeling ennobled by their perseverance, their patience, their fortitude, as I stood there in my naturally cheerful and colorful presence– I can’t help myself– I smile, I wave, I meet eyes, I gesture to let them know their progress as they advance through the long line. They smile back, they laugh, we break the ice, calm the waters.

I know as a parent, what it is to feel the urgency, the responsibility to get the help my child needs and deserves, how important it is to discover whether the doctors can take my child’s case and if not, explain to me respectfully why not.

I did not see victims. I saw feistiness and smiles overriding despair. We processed 139 cases that first day, accepting about 125. Some were too young yet, some had some underlying health situations making surgery a high risk at this time, some required surgeries that this team was not equipped for at this time. There will be some add-ons and some no-shows. By the end of the two weeks, the team of 3 surgeons will have completed over 100 operations. A medical miracle of skill and stamina!

Back to work tomorrow!