What a different feel this morning has compared to all the others since we have been here.  We only have three surgery patients today.  This means there was no crowd waiting for us when we arrived.  No one is sitting in our waiting area doing activities at the tables while waiting for their surgeries.  Today, as soon as they are processed, they are taken upstairs for surgery; no waiting.  This is great news for the patients but I miss the interactions with those in the waiting area.

Unfortunately, I only got one picture from rounds this morning.  Dr. Ann Mohler is giving after care instructions to Maria’s mother.

Dr. Ann Mohler has been a pediatrician for 28 years.  She lives in Oakland, California.  This is her second Rotaplast mission.  She went to the Philippines in 2019.  What Dr. Mohler likes about the Rotaplast missions and why she came back for another one: the comradery that comes from working hard together; likes to see the immediate changes that affect the qualify of life for the patients; very rewarding; and she loves to travel.  In fact, when her son and daughter were 11 and 14 years old, respectively, they took a year off to travel the world.  It was some of the best education her children have gotten.  Plus, they learned to say, “thank you” in many languages.  “Muchas gracias” Dr. Mohler for being with us on this mission.

These are the three surgeries scheduled for today (all should go home today):

Duvan is 16 years old.  Surgery- unilateral lip revision.  Photos: intake picture; recovery room with his quilt; post-op

Miguel is 16 years old. Surgery- right lip revision.  Photo: intake picture

Jhon is 28 years old.  Surgery- bilateral lip revision.  Photos: intake picture; recovery with translator Nicole, Nurse Tracy Liu, Dr. Puri; post-op

Here are some more profiles of our amazing mission team members:

Craig Galante is a Rotarian living in Pennsylvania. (Pictured above with Arzoo Salami) He has been a Rotarian in the Rotary Club of Broomall for 7 years.  He is a past-president and current Foundation Chair.  Paul Quintvalla, Rotaplast boardmember and person responsible for the Rotaplast Newsletter, is a member of Craig’s club.  He heard about Rotaplast through Paul and other club members who have gone on missions.  Unfortunately, the timing was never right for Craig. He was too busy with work and raising a son (just graduated from high school) and a daughter (just graduated from Temple University).  Craig also graduated this year with his BS degree and rode to his graduation ceremony in style, in his cap and gown on a Harley.  Though this is his first Rotaplast mission, it isn’t because of lack of trying.  He was scheduled to go to Nepal in 2020 but it was cancelled 1-2 weeks before departure due to the pandemic.

Craig is the Operations Supervisor at Monroe Energy.  He was in the Navy for 4 years and on an Emergency Response Team for 20 years.  It’s no wonder he is doing an exceptional job as our Quartermaster.  I am not sure what his actual job duties are supposed to be.  It seems he is everything to everyone.  Craig makes almost daily trips to the store, asking everyone if they wanted to add anything to his list before he leaves.  He takes pictures for me in the OR and recovery room when I’m not able to be there.  He delivers supplies and materials to whoever needs them.  Craig takes count of who is on the bus coming and going from the hospital.  When team members need to stay later to be with late surgery patients, he stays with them, helping pack up and making sure they all get an Uber back to the hotel.  I could go on and on.  He does all of this with a great sense of humor and giving heart.  We are so lucky to have him!

Evelyn Snyder is from San Diego, California.  She has been on 11 missions with Rotaplast.  She also goes on medical mission trips with another organization as well.  Evelyn’s favorite destination for missions is the Philippines since this is where she is from.  She moved to the USA in 1969 and became a pediatric nurse.  In 1976, Evelyn became an OR nurse, which is her job on this mission.  Though she is retired, she loves to work and be with patients.  She does a lot of volunteer work, including once a week at the hospital doing the outpatient surgery schedule and other paperwork.  Evelyn met her husband at an airport and has been married for 33 years.  They got married on the Fourth of July, the fireworks continue!

Photo below: Our team of anesthesiologists- Dr. Robert Karoukian, Dr. Neal Fleming, Dr. Kiran Puri, and David Rowen, CRNA.

Dr. Kirian Puri left her husband of 7 months behind in Pennsylvania to come on this, her first, Rotaplast mission.  She is a resident of our Lead Anesthesiologist, Dr. Neal Fleming.  She is in her fourth year of residency and is studying pediatric cardiac anesthesia.  Dr. Puri has always been interested in, and an advocate of, human rights and global pediatric care.  This mission combines those passions with her love of travel.  She also loves cats, even looking to see them when abroad.  Dr. Puri used to travel a lot before the pandemic.  However, that is about when her residency started so she can’t say which halted her travelling.  We are happy she got to travel again and was with us on this mission.

The silence is over as we celebrate the wonderful volunteers who have helped us during this mission.

One chocolate cake and one vanilla cake thanking the volunteers.

Volunteers waiting for ceremony to start.

The group is ready to start.

Mission Director Ted Alex addresses the crowd and thanks everyone and Stephanie translates.

Lead Anesthesiologist Dr. Neal Fleming talking about the help in the OR and thanking volunteers on behalf of the medical staff.

Juliana Velez, representing the hospital, thanked Rotaplast for coming.  Quote from her translated from Spanish to English: “You gave one smile to the patients but created many more in their families.  One smile creates many.”

Assistant Mission Director Juan Gallego passes out certificates of appreciation to all volunteers.

Mission Director Ted Alex and Quartermaster Craig Galante pass out certificates of appreciation to our delegation.

Cakes are cut and served.

Nurses thank Rotaplast delegation. Quote from one of the nurses translated from Spanish to English: “It is wonderful that different cultures are coming together to do something good. . . . When are you coming back?”

Artwork the patients left for us (some hung them up themselves)

Tomorrow should be very busy for us. Many of the patients from last week and earlier this week will be coming back for the doctors to check them one last time.  Then we pack everything up and head for home.  For now, back to the hotel for a quiet evening.