We arrived at 4:00am into Manila, but you would never guess that it’s four in the morning– the airport is bustling! Filippinos do not sleep but we soon learn that we do not get much while we are here either: pre-op coordination, surgery, and post-op have multiple dimensions; there is so much need here– who has time to sleep?
After exiting the airport terminal, we met Joshua P. Hatcher, a native Filipino, Korean war vet, and US expatriate. He left Half Moon Bay, CA seven years ago to work with the local rotary in Ceba, Rotary Club Metro Cebu. They publicize the free cleft repairs throughout the countryside and raise money to sponsor children who cannot afford to make the trip or pay for lodging and food. Local rotary are instrumental in organizing surgical outreaches for the children with cleft lip and palate. It can be safely said that, without the support of local rotary, these trips would not be successful.
We climb into a car with Joshua and for 30 minute drive through stop and go traffic in diesel thick air. Everywhere we look there are people cooking and selling food on the side of the road with open fire grills and boiling pots. Cats, dogs, and roosters roam the streets. The scene is quite a departure from the boutique shops and small restaurants in our home town; we’re definitely not in California anymore.
We finally check into the hotel– or rather, the hotel, spa, disco, casino, roller coaster, arcade, climbing wall, and multi restaurant facility. Everyone speaks English which surprised me; I was expecting to have to learn a little tagalog here and there but it turned out to be almost too easy.
Soon after checking in, we met with the entire medical group at the hotel’s American-fifties-styled restaurant. As we met everyone we discovered that many of the surgeons are from the US, mostly California and Utah, and the anesthesiologists are from Australia as well as the group of nurses. It is always so inspiring to meet such a diverse group of people coming from all over to do this kind of work.
After the meeting, we were allowed a quick breather before screening day…
~ Karen Senders
Operation Restore Hope Australia is a not-for-profit, non-governmental, non-sectarian charity that surgically repairs cleft lips and palates for underpriviliged children in the Philippines. The charity was conceived by renowned Cosmetic Surgeon Dr. Darryl Hodgkinson in 1992.
Our missions typically last one week. Throughout the week we constantly teach and develop the skills of the local medical staff who work alongside us. Much of the operating room equipment we use during our time in the Philippines is brought with us from home and/or donated…
Read more at Operation Restore Hope Australia.