The stories shared by the families served during the Cebu City Rotaplast surgical trip are powerful testaments to their determination and willingness to travel great distances and overcome so many obstacles – all for one reason. To obtain life-changing surgery for their children! These very commitments show not only their fierce love for their children, but their hopes for a brighter future.

The back stories for nearly every family have a similar thread running through them. Bullying and societal exclusion. The bullying is so extreme that it causes some of our patients to stop attending school, as was the case with beautiful, vibrant Fionna who spent much of her waiting time twirling and playing in the pre-op area. Her dad had abandoned her mom and two other siblings when Fionna was younger. Attending school proved to be too much for her with the harsh bullying, so she stopped, staying home to cook and care for her two siblings in order to help her mom. For Fionna, Covid offered some relief as she was able to wear a mask and return to school. She will need multiple surgeries, with the first one being the teeth extraction performed by members of our Rotaplast team. And thanks to the very generous ongoing collaboration between Cebu Port Centre Rotary and the medical teams at Adventist Hospital Cebu, Fionna will be looking forward to an even more beautiful new smile, which can only continue to bring more joy and smiles to everyone she meets, as she did with every member of our team, and, more importantly, a future full of endless possibilities.

Another young family’s journey involved three hours of travel by bus from several hours away, with each bus becoming progressively smaller and more crammed as they travelled. This trip was only to see if their small son Ashton would qualify for the surgery – there simply were no guarantees. Mom Mylene learned of the surgery from her RN cousin who was able to send her a social media link with the information.  Mylene and her husband were determined to get to Cebu City, where their son qualified for and received a successful cleft palate repair which will improve his speech. Like so many of our patients, Ashton will be able to look forward to a very hopeful future ahead.

Day 6 of this Rotaplast team’s made even more bright futures possible for so many families facing similar struggles with cleft lip/palate conditions. And this was expressed perfectly in one family’s thank you – “Thank you for everything and for the wonderful and successful surgery to my son. We are so happy that now our son is free from bullying and discrimination. May God bless you for your kind heart.” Savings Smiles, Changing Lives as only Rotaplast can.