Our favorite day, the one we volunteer for is finally here! Screening day started at 8 am, many of the children, parents, brothers, sisters and other relatives had arrived at the hospital hours earlier in anticipation. You can see it in their eyes, hear it in their voices, and feel it in their smiles – the desire to have a chance at this life changing surgery.
Close to 60 patients were screened ranging from 10 months to 25 years old. There were patients in need of lip and cleft repairs and several previous patients returned for further corrective surgery. It was great to see the improvements that the prior surgeries had brought to the returning patients, that is, increased self esteem, confidence and larger, more beautiful smiles.
Big “thank yous” go out to the hospital staff for all their efforts! Everything was so well organized. The potential patients and family members visited 7 stations set up in a large room. The stations focused on vitals, pediatrics, dentistry, anaesthesia, surgery, speech therapy and photography. Each station was staffed with local health care professionals, Uplift Internationale volunteers, and translators. The patients were carefully evaluated at each station to determine if they were good surgery candidates. Throughout the morning there was such an energy in the room, it came from everywhere – the volunteers who came from all over the world to take part in this mission, the local staff and health care providers who without their help none of this would have been possible and from the children and their family who were in hopes of a chance to make their future happier.
In the end, 47 lucky children were scheduled for surgery. By noon the patients were in pre-op and the surgeries started soon after!