Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh -- Eileen Sheldon, ReSurge volunteer and trip supporter
We made it to Cox's Bazar after our journey that included a sunny afternoon in Singapore during our layover, an overnight stay in Dhaka and an introduction to the current political affairs in Bangladesh.
Our final destination, The Hope Foundation Hospital for women and children, is located off of a narrow but busy village street and is an impressive facility among its surroundings. Our first morning at the hospital started with a greeting and introduction by its director. Immediately afterwards, we set up our clinic to screen patients while several team members began assembling the operating room. We were off the ground and running.
The clinic was abuzz within moments of our set up. We were greeted with quietly eager and obviously nervous patients and family members. Within a few hours we completed the screenings needed to determine the appropriate procedure for each patient. Thanks to some glittery stickers and coloring books, we produced quite a few smiles and hopefully some comfort.
I was moved by the stories of all the patients -- a 16 year old girl who journeyed on her own to have a facial contraction improved with the hopes of obtaining a job; the petite 2-year-old who spoke of having the doctors fix her syndactyly (fused) fingers; the wide-eyed young boy who loves playing football but limped severely. I could go on.
Before we left for the day, we spent time in the ward where the families gathered to wait until their scheduled procedure. It was quiet and calm. Some napped, curled up on the bare mattresses. Others sat quietly still, like the father-daughter pair who picked a lone corner and fixed their eyes in stoic gazes across the room. For some the humid, dimly-lit room would be there home for the coming week or more. And I selfishly hope that will give me an opportunity to get to know them.
What a day.