Friday 2/1/19 – our first screening day in Huehuetenango

Our day one on the mission did prove to be a turbulent one: We could only operate with a core team since the rest -thanks to Delta’s surprising flight cancellation- is still en route to Huehue – and now scheduled to join us tomorrow around noontime. So well, here we are, families and kids on the doorstep of the Salus Hospital waiting… We decided to cut screening activities in two phases with performing surgical and dental screens today and to have the pre-selected candidates for surgical interventions assessed again by the anesthesia team once it arrives tomorrow. Anesthesia has to have the final word, with no ECU close by we all have to be conservative in our approach not to risk our little patients life.

And here they were, our little patients: A wild mixture of different temperaments, medical histories and personal stories. The youngest cleft baby just being 2 months old arriving to us from a municipality 2 hrs bumpy ride away… his tiny tiny fingers wrap themselves around your carefully caressing pinky… who would not want to help – however given the young age anesthesia may be risky, a final decision will have to be made by tomorrow.

Our most tragic case of the day is probably a 26-month old girl. Is the fact that she is blind and cannot stand on her feet making her cleft palate condition irrelevant or even the worse? Her mother is looking for our help and as there is only so much that Dr. Johns consultation can offer we all can see that realization in her face.

But there are also uplifting and moving moments for us today: Children warming up to us and engaging in our jokes, a video call from the little girl Griselle with her friend Nienke in the Netherlands – the two formed a tight bond over face paint artistry during last year’s mission – , reconnecting with old friends from the local rotary club and then also to witness how seamless the newcomers to the mission – medical students, volunteers find their tasks and personal fullfilment in the middle of what we all came for here: To make a difference in those people’s lives.

While we are standing here today facing our patients and being able to help at least some of them, I would like to thank all of you who support this mission over and over again: The Rotary District 6000 Clubs, the Salus I hospital, the Rotarians of Huehuetenango and the numerous individual contributions we have recieved – Thank you. Sincerely.


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