Happy February! Not sure where January went but its apparently over...so this is why it went by so fast. First, I arrived in Ecuador on a Friday night, I was sick most of the day just thinking about going through customs. Im sure that most of you know that Correa (the President of Ecuador) is very against anyone bringing anything into Ecuador from the US. Since I travel a lot, Quito airport is small, and all of the people that work in customs are the same....they know me. This IS NOT to my advantage. I traveled this time with 2 duffle bags, one weighing 90 lbs and the other 50. This is nothing compared to what I used to travel with and of course the lady asked me to please step over to the other side with my stuff so that they could look at everything. When they say “look at everything” that means take every single thing out of your bag and put it on a table. If its my size that I can keep it, if its not then they will take it. Lucky I had thought about this prior so i rolled all of the donations and things that I bought for people in the bottom of the duffle bags and put my stuff unfolded and a mess on top. When the guy opened the duffle bag he pulled out two big handfuls, all mine...then he put his hand down toward the bottom of the bag and pulled one more big handful and guess what?? It was ALL mine! No idea how that happened but then all he had to say was that I have ALOT of clothes, and my response was “ill be here for awhile”. Haha! How amazing!!
Then I was surprised with a birthday party on Saturday! Complete with roses, food, presents! How nice it is to have a second family here! Then the Liga game (Quito soccer team), crazy...tons of people but “we” won!!
Sunday night I arrived back in Pimampiro to a house full of dirt...not pleasant but the reality of living in a small dusty town. Monday and Tuesday were spent unpacking and repacking and cleaning and organizing because on Wednesday at 4am I left Pimampiro with two kids headed to Operation Smile Evaluations in Quito!
Operation Smile...my newfound love. Operation Smile is an organization that does mostly cleft lip and palette repairs and other minor surgeries such as removing an extra toe or separating fingers. I am now part of their “Ecuadorian Team” which means that I will work (as long as I am not in the states working) with them the 4 times a year that they are in Ecuador. The director of South America was here this past week and asked if I would be willing to travel to other Latin American countries since they are always in need of bilingual nurses. So, we will see where that takes me!
This past week in Quito we operated on 99 kids!! Most of these kids were revisions of previous cleft lip surgeries, quite a few first time palette repair, and a good number with extra toes or fingers. One little girls who was about 2 really made me sad, her mother worked in a greenhouse where they grow bananas and she was born with very few fingers or toes. One foot was totally “normal” while the rest were nothing more than nubs with maybe a finger or two. She was also born with cleft lip and palette and a few other more minor abnormalities. This is to show what chemicals do to bodies, how awful for something so preventable this poor child was born with so many things wrong. So many other stories that I could tell you; the 3 year old who was burned all on the left side of his face and the skin was super tight, the 18 year old who had very little upper lip after having so many cleft lip surgeries so now his lips are sewn shut for the next few weeks, or the many kids who had their palettes closed and have a suture through their tongue taped to the side of their faces. So many children, so many surgeries, so thankful do be a part of such an amazing team and effort!
Im back in Pimampiro now...time to get English classes and this nutrition project on the road. Thank you all for all of your support! I couldnt be here without each and every one of you!!