The second group of students had the opportunity to watch a cleft palate/lip surgery on an eleven-month-old girl today. The two-hour surgery served as a great learning experience, as Dr. Rosa was very explicit in explaining what he was doing and why.
Afterwards, Dr. Rosa consulted with the mother of a boy at Camino because of her cleft palate and difficulty speaking. It turns out that Dr. Rosa was actually the physician that operated on her cleft palate back in 1992 when she was 15 years old. She was supposed to return for follow-up and a second procedure, but never did due to financial difficulties. Because the mother is not considered a pediatric patient, the surgery can cost up to 2,000 dollars; however, Cate Crowley and Dr. Rosa are making the argument that fixing the mother’s cleft palate will be a better speech model for her deaf son and help facilitate better communication between the two. They are hoping to work with the accounts department to lower the price.
The most touching moment was watching the mother look at Cate and then at the doctor, with tears in her eyes as she said “Por favor doctor ayúdeme. Muchas veces ni hablo con otra gente por que es muy díficil que me entiendan. Yo quiero ayudar a mi hijo. Yo quiero esta operación. Translation: “Please doctor, help me. Many times I don’t even speak to people because it’s hard for them to understand me. I want to help my son. I want this operation.” Cate spoke to the students at the hospital today about the possibility of donating some of the fundraising money from selling Bolivia scarves to help pay for the mother’s operation.
Meanwhile, the other group of students continued their great work at Camino. As usual, the teachers were great in providing mid-day snacks and tea. They even went out of their way to buy some of the best salteñas in town!! After Camino, all of the students met at the integrated schools to take over the classrooms, while teachers sat in a capacitación (in-service training) with all of the Gran Bretaña teachers about the role of the Gran Bretaña teachers and Camino teachers/interpreters and how they could collaborate with one another to best serve the hearing and deaf children. Melissa (our audiologist) presented and talked to them about optimal seating arrangements for the deaf children to make better use of their audition.
Finally, the day ended in a good-bye dinner at Coca for Program Coordinator/Found and Supervisor Cate Crowley. Announcements were made that grant money would be given to the teachers to pay for their vacation days, considering the little they are already paid. Everyone shared their favorite moment and how grateful they were for the opportunity and for Cate. Neither the students, nor the supervisors, nor the Camino teachers who joined in expected it to be emotional as it was. The truth is that Cate will be missed. The next three days won’t be the same without her, but they will still be wonderful and that is because of the vision that she had and followed through with. This trip has been and will continue to be, the opportunity of a lifetime.