To be turned away
Thursday, 28 August 2008
55 children and adults arrived at the screening this morning. It was an incredible but heart wrenching experience to be in the company of so many people whose lives have been torn apart due to their disfigurement. The youngest child was only eight days old and then on the other side there was a lady of 50 who had spent the best part of her life in the shadows, ostracised and laughed at, who could not stare anyone in the eyes due to her shame, but now there was a ray of hope.
There was an eerie uneasiness amongst all the patients, maybe disbelief that they could be helped or the final realisation that there are also other people who suffer from a similar problem, as most of them are never seen in public, or able to integrate into society because of the way that they are seen by others. As the morning progressed the children began to interact with each other and play, a sense of freedom seemed to fall over them as no one noticed that they looked any different no one cared how they looked or laughed at them, everyone shared a similar problem, for the first time in their lives they could run, play and chase each other like normal children. One mother just sat there tears streaming down her face, tears of joy as she said it was the first time that she had seen her child just be able to play with other children and be a child. Mothers began bonding and just chatting, sharing their mutual stories relating to their children.
After hours of the screening process and checks all the patients are then assessed by the medical panel according to prioritised criteria and the surgical selection process is then done. But at every mission there are always some cases that have to be referred to other hospitals or the patient is not healthy enough at the time to be operated on, but they eventually will get help, but today, their day of freedom from enslavement inside their disfigured body is taken away from them. A harsh blow, to some its been years of waiting for this opportunity, only to find it turns out to be just another day in their tormented life. As traumatic as it is for the child, so it is for the person who has to break the news.
As I sat on the lawn behind the small group of patients who did not make the criteria, I could just see what the young mission coordinator was going through, holding each child’s hand, talking to them and explaining that not all hope is lost there will be a next time, I knew and felt the genuine pain that she was going through and that it was one of the hardest things that she has had to deal with in her life. Looking across the group, I wish I could just stretch out and hold my daughter, but I know that its what she can deal with best.
Tamlin – I am really proud of you and every one involved with Operation Smile.