Operation Smile spreads smiles through Chiriqui, Panama in April 2010!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 7

Today was a really long day and I can tell the I'm getting a little run down.

First thing in the morning I ran to the hospital really quickly to visit Ricardo and give him a t-shirt and a bubble maker from Pam that he loves. He was happy to see me, but clearly tired and uncomfortable. I also saw Brenda, who was doing really well. We played with giant pipe-cleaners and she laughed and laughed.

Then I went to the shelter and played with the kids. The shelter is really almost empty now, but we still have kids to entertain.
Some of the older boys finally engaged with us and we played a really long game of the card game War. You can definitely tell that they are more self conscious about their faces than the younger kids. We have a lot of fun though. This one boy (maybe my age or older) played songs for me on his phone and asked me to translate the English to Spanish. It was difficult, but I found that it was easier than I thought to get the point across. The boys also love kicking around a soccer ball, and two of them are amazing at juggling.

Ricardo came back to the shelter in the early afternoon and I learned a lot more about him. It turns out the one of the older quieter girls is his sister. I had always liked her, but never knew they were related. Her name is Yamilka and she is absolutely gorgeous. The two of them, and their baby sister all had surgery on their feet. They have three more brothers and sister back home too. I tried to get their address so I can write to them but they don't really have an address. The way they described where their house is: "My house is in the Valle de Anton. It has many trees and flowers". I thought this was ridiculous at first, but it turns out, most of the patients describe their address like that. I'm still going to try to see if I can get a letter to them. I let Ricardo sit and take pictures with my camera more today, especially since he can't run around. He took some great pictures of his feet all wrapped up. I also had to help out his mom by giving him a piggy back ride to the bathroom. I don't think she was strong enough to carry him, and she was struggling a lot, so I piggy backed him over to the boys room and then she brought him back out and I piggy backed him back to his bed. On the way back he decided it would be funny to pretend he was falling and lean back. I was so worried that he'd hurt is feet that I started screaming and trying to balance him and he started laughing. Everyone was staring and he thought it was hilarious. I sat with their family a lot today and got to talk with his mother. It turns out she was really worried about carrying all of their belongings home, since they live 4.5 hours away and now all of her children have bandaged feet, and one of them is only 2 years old anyway. She asked me if I had a big suitcase and I realized that I have an huge empty one in my hotel room. I'm brining it to her tomorrow so that she can carry everything more easily. She asked me if there is any was she can return it to me, but there is no way she can afford to ship it to the US, or be able to get to a post office.

Also while we were sitting outside today I saw a man that looked confused so I asked him if he needed help. He walked over to me and just handed me his baby girl. I was so confused, but then realized that they had to eat lunch and she wasn't allowed to eat because of her surgery so they didn't want her to watch. She was adorable and thought it was hilarious when I made my duck puppet eat her hand and legs.

We went to the hospital around six and got to see many of our friends. Arnando was very happy to see us and led us to this corner where there are toys. He dumped everything out and refused to let us clean up. he was quite lively for right after his surgery and was running around with his lip all bandaged up.

We got to talk to the awesome bus driver who drives us around all the time. Isa, Chantal and Gabi nicknamed him "Profi" (Porfilio is his real name). He is such a nice person. He was very proud to tell us about his fire extinguisher business and I think really enjoyed hearing us try to speak Spanish.

Tomorrow the surgeons finish up about 10 cleft lips and then we go to the beach again. I can't believe everything is almost over. I am going to be really sad to come home. I know it's going to be really difficult to adjust back to everyday life, and I'm going to miss Panama so much!

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