Wooo!! Another AMAZING day from India. This will probably be a quick blog update, but I really gotta keep you guys informed!! I had two omeletes this morning, so we're off to a good start! Then we got to the hospital and started all of our work. Our child life specialist was here today, and she is truly so nice! Guess who joined us today at the hospital? Matthew Fox, star of the show LOST!! He was here to observe during surgery, and also to play with the kids! Chris and I played with this one super fun little kid, who became a superstar when Matthew Fox and Bill Magee played with him! Everyone around the hospital called him "the movie star" :P I'll blog his story right after this. Then our favorite ASB students left :( Today, I spent a lot of my time with my favorite recovery nurses, Melissa (From SLC! Woooooooooooooooo), Val from LA, and Elizabeth from Canada (she'll be reading this blog when she gets back from her trip). I also went down to the post op a lot, and made Tang for all of the patients. What is so awesome about this mission, is that you know every little thing you do is extremely important! It makes me feel like me being here is important to all of the mission. Also, I've learned how much work goes into putting on these missions. It gave me a splitting headache just trying to get patients in and out of their rooms. So kudos to Op Smile volunteers for doing this EVERY DAY! :)
I've waited to tell you guys the highlight of my day... I GOT TO WATCH SURGERY! Dr. Naum (Chris' dad) invited me in to watch him to do a pallate on a 10 month old baby boy, and I was thrilled to be in the operating room, watching this child's life change literally before my eyes. The surgery room is a lot more laid back than I thought it would be. All the doctors are joking around, having a good time. One of the anasthesiologists called me "the kid who is good at criquet" ;) The surgery was so breathtaking. Dr. Naum worked very hard and did an amazing, amazing job on it. As he stitched the final flap of the pallate, I was witnessing this child's life forever be changed. This is what makes these missions so incredible! I encourage everyone with the opportunity to GO!!!!
After the surgery, Lisa, Kyle, and I all went shopping (Chris wasn't allowed to go, which was devastating). We ate some absolutely amazing food at a tiny little bakery, and got dessert that was just as good! Then we went shopping some more, and I got all my shopping done for my family AND the Hyde family! You guys are in for a treat... ;) Anyways! I love y'all!! I'm going to blog "the movie star's" story now, so read on...
We spotted a five-year-old Sarban in a crowd of patients waiting to be screened outside Mahendra Mohan Choudhary District Hospital where the Operation Smile Guwahati mission is taking place. Wearing a red shirt, he sat quite contently in his dad's lap, waiting for his name to be called so they could begin the screening process.
Sarban is the eldest in his family- but he is not the firstborn. An older brother died only nine days old after birth. An older sister died from dysentry when she was two-years-old. Now, as the surviving oldest son, he seems to be the pride and joy of his very caring dad.
Dad tells me that when his son was born, it was a devastating blow to the family. Neighbors told him that it was the mother's fault that Sarban was born this way.
"I felt so sad when I saw my son born with a cleft lip. His mother was speechless and felt she was to blame. We said that God created him life this and we must accept the way it is."
They had seen many other children in the area with cleft lips - in fact, Ahmit told us that he once visited a village filled with people born with cleft lips. It was a sight that terrified him. Yet, he has always treasured his son.
"I felt so blessed to have this child and I said I would always take care of him. All I wanted for him was to have this surgery. I thought that someday I could take him to the hospital and he'd be operated on."
They were clearly weary from a long journey. They had left their village at 11 pm the previous night and travelled more than 8 hours to get to our mission site. This was not the first time they had tried to get surgery.
Two years ago, Dad heard about another cleft organization that would help his son- but was turned away because he had a fever. This was a devastating blow.
Ever since then, he has hoped and waited for another chance for a free surgery for his son.
As he talks to me, Dad tries to keep his son warm in the chilly morning air. He puts a sweater on him and keeps him close to his side. He doesn't want him getting sick and being turned away again.
"I've been waiting all this time for another chance for my son to have surgery."
Dad works on a tea plantation in the hills of Golaghat. When there is work, he can make 1200 rupies a month- that's about $30.
"I could never afford this for my son," he tells us with a bit of sadness. Clearly, it grives him that his son has suffered this long without any help.
"He doesn't want to go to school. He knows that the other children will tease him."
Sarban pipes in when we talk on the subject of teasing.
"They tease me and call me names. I cry and run home when they tease me. I just want my lip to be better.
Sometimes, when I walk down the street, people hit me."
When I asked them how they heard the news about the Operation Smile mission, they said an "usher" from the district hospital came in with the good news. They threw a few belongings together in a small duffle bag and rushed to catch the all-nighter bus to the capital city of Assam.
As Sarban moved from the screening station to screening station at our mission site, his smile just got bigger and brighter. He clearly seems to know that the days of teasing and suffering are about to end- and his dreams of being a "normal kid" are about to come true.
"I want to be educated and have a great job someday.
I am so excited to be getting my lip fixed so nobody will tease me anymore."