Monday, May 7, 2007

New smiles at the post op clinic

Guatemala wrap-up

Our mission to Guatemala was a great success. In seven days of surgery and two clinic days, we changed the lives of 102 children and their families. Most of the kids came back on the last Saturday for the post op clinic. Handshakes, high fives, hugs and tears abounded. Kids heal really fast and fresh new smiles filled the room.

Thank you for visiting this website and sharing the joy and emotions. The site has received 1,052 visits from all over the world. I enjoyed the opportunity to bring it to you.


Friday, May 4, 2007

Next phase for Sulamita

Dr. Mabel Garcia Mattos, a dedicated orthodontist from Uruguay who has participated in numerous missions, wrote to inform me of the next steps in treatment for Sulamita. She will need to be fitted with a palate expander to create space for the front part of her upper jaw to fit in place. Sulamita has an appointment in July with Dr. Silvia Castellanos who will provide orthodontic services, at no charge, based on Dr. Mattos' instructions.

Once her palate has been expanded, the cleft can be closed and her premaxilla can be brought into the proper position in the front of her upper jaw.
Through the generosity of Rotaplast and the medical volunteers, all procedures are done at no charge to Sulamita's family.

It's a great example of collaboration between Rotaplast surgeons and dentists. It's a mere 7 - 10 hour roundtrip bus ride for each appointment. Let's hope that's not an insurmountable obstacle.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Sulamita's extended family

Filmmaker Dennis Bourassa (center), Dr. Sibrand Schepel (back right) and I with Sulamita and her extended family.

Kids seemed to appear from everywhere
when we arrived back home with Sulamita, just as night fell. They giggled as they huddled around the camera after every photo to point themselves out on the LCD. Some of the boys scurried up into tree branches overhead. Within the family, only Mayan K'iche' is spoken, not Spanish.

We spent a day
getting to know them better, filming more interviews, playing with the kids, eating freshly made tortillas and just hanging out. The fresh air and tranquil, rural setting were in stark contrast to the smog and chaos of Guatemala City.

It will be several more weeks before the swelling in Sulamita's lip goes down. Hopefully she'll make it to another clinic scheduled for July in Antigua to have her palate repaired. Additional follow up long-term care for orthodontics and speech therapy are likely not a reality for Sulamita and others like her in remote locations and without the means to pay.

But even just the single operation to repair her lip will make a profound difference in her life, thanks to the donors, Rotary volunteers and medical volunteers of the Rotaplast team.

Sulamita and her mom

The road home

Sisters, brothers and cousins