Saturday, October 28, 2006

Greetings from Hefei!

What a welcome the people of Anhui have showed our team. When we arrived at the airport last night they met us as we came off the plane with a welcoming banner and even presented a huge bouquet of roses to our team leader, Heidi. We all checked into the hotel and fell into bed, knowing that we had an early breakfast on Saturday at 6 a.m. Coffee downed, we arrived at Anhui Children’s Hospital to yet another wonderful reception, a sea of pink and white uniformed hospital staff and huge red banner above the door welcoming LWB.

It really was so amazing to pull into the parking lot and be greeted by so many warm and caring individuals, all ready to work together to help the kids.

Onward we went to the 10th floor and the organized pandemonium!

Lines formed of nannies with the most ADORABLE and beautiful children, curious and watchful. Many more children had arrived than expected as the orphanages and aunties were so excited to have this opportunity that they showed up early!! The love of the aunties for their children is so heartwarming and so obvious. Each aunty wanted to make sure that their child was definitely healed.

Registration started, pre-op started, files were prepared and the children assigned to beds. We knew all would be sorted by lunch time. Oh yes, who was ordering lunch and what time? And were the photos taken and the ID tags on??? Yes, lots of activity! No problem! (our motto for the trip!) Our volunteers in the pre-op area spent the morning decorating the room so that as each little child is brought in they would be welcomed cheerfully.

Team members were thrilled to meet little “Hercules”, the tiny cleft baby who was too small for surgery last year and who has now turned into “Mr Moose Boy” at Hope Foster Home. Everyone agreed he was quite the character! Another little girl who had arrived from Guilin charmed everyone as she was sporting sunglasses a nd a lei.

Volunteers were dispatched to buy extra supplies, like formula and “nappies“. They reported that they turned quite a few heads as they went through the store, as two foreign women strolling two huge carts of diapers will do!

Before we knew it, the anesthesiologist arrived to take his first patient up. Such a tiny life in those giant arms. Quick intake of breath….yes this was what we were here for, to see this baby receive a new smile!! Toys were brought out for the kids, diaper packs given to the aunties, and what do you mean there are no scoop measures in the formula bags? No problem!

And so went the morning of day 1 as five children received their surgeries. We expect to have a routine down by tomorrow, certainly now at 4:30 p.m. things are slowing a bit and we are organizing who is on the next shift. Tomorrow is coming, and 12-15 more babies will be helped by our team.

One thing that has struck so many of us is that YES these trips take months and months of planning and a thousand different details must be worked out, but there is something so wonderful and so unique in having two countries work together to help children. It is such an honor to be a part of these new friendships, this exchange of ideas, and the pure goodwill that comes of it.