Today was the first day of surgery! Pulling up to the hospital around 7am, we saw the long lists of surgeries for the week, and then began our busy day. We set up the Child Life room, where the children go directly before surgery to help them become familiar and comfortable with equipment they may see in the operating room. Century spent some time trying to talk to the daughter of a Turkana man who did not know any English and spoke a local dialect. The student team took care of this girl, Agnes, along with her tribal member's young infant. The infant went around to the arms of almost every female team member and each time the baby got to a new pair of arms, you could tell that motherly holders were secretly thinking of ways that they could adopt the little girl. At the end of the day, we were glad to know both of their parents' surgeries went well.
To make up for Saturday's lack of people coming in to be screened, we had about 20 more people come in to be screened. We met a couple more patients and their families as we were put in charge of taking pictures for the medical record files.
Many of the patients we saw from Friday's screening came back. Unfortunately, Tony was not a candidate for an Operation Smile surgery. Karina was so disappointed, she had even brought him some special shirts and toys for when she would see him. It is so hard to know that someone had a special connection with a kid and then they will never be able to see each other again. The important thing was that many of the patients did come back.
Benjamin, one little boy with a kind of growth on his forehead came back for surgery. Karina got a chance to talk to him and his mother and really connect with both of them. Luckily, there was a translator, Sammy, who could translate basically the whole conversation between them. Her story was incredible. At age 14 she got married off and had her first child. In her community,it was looked down upon to be able to get some education for women. She has had 8 children since then and her husband just died last year. She is now a single mother and owes money to many people but still says that her daughters "deserve" this. Selling her chicken and chicken eggs, she makes enough money to send her daughters to high-school and manage to keep her children healthy and happy. Karina gave her 6 Op Smile t-shirts to pass them around her family. She was so grateful and glowed with happiness.
There was also a very severe burn patient that came in to be screened. The burns were not the kind we had been seeing through the weekend screenings though. These burns were fresh on her face and all along her back. This little girl was named Joyce, she had been a burn victim of 2 weeks ago. This was also a unique story. Her family were refugees living in a community with tents. The tents caught on fire and Joyce was in one of them. Her sister went in to go save her but instead she got caught in the fire and Joyce got out with fire on her. Tragically, her sister did not survive. The doctors didn't think they would be able to do surgery but in the end, they have scheduled her to have skin graphs done at the end of the week. We are all so grateful for this.
After running around back and fourth from Post-Op to Pre-OP to the Child Life room, we finally ended our day at the hospital around 6. The surgeons were still doing work as we left. We went back to the hotel and went out to eat Ethiopian food with our new friend Porter, the Peace Corps Volunteer. It was very good (: