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The next challenge – Madagascar

With out realising it, I am well into the final planning stages of the next Challenge, A solo run of the island of Madagascar, but with a few twists. A date is set 15 December 2009, the training has begun, but for the rest I can’t fill in much because as usual I don’t really have any sponsorship yet. Minor problem – the decision has been made I am going and I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

Something really special has happened over the past week in Nelspruit Mpumalanga.

31 Children and 3 adults received cleft surgery. I had the honour of joining up with the Operation Smile team and was invited to spend time in surgery to witness magic at work as the group of surgeons unleashed the beauty in those children.

To be part of this is something so special, emotional and heart wrenching. I have just experience 3 days of floods, floods of tears of joy, from patients, parents, family sponsors and even hardened members of the Operation Smile team. I have also shared in a special moment that can never be captured.

Sitting with a mother who had just given off her child for surgery, it’s distorted, but angelic little face looking back over the anaesthetists shoulder, teary eyed as he was carried away to where magic is done.

It’s not long and the distant little crying of an awakening child drifts down the passage with wafts of theatre and hospital smells. Through the permanent scurry of feet, theatre trolleys and the eternal beeping of monitors that permanently prick your subconscious, the footsteps echo down the hall, growing louder in our direction. I notice the knuckles on the ladies hand turn as she nervously wrings her fingers into a tighter grip. Its only been an hour and the recovery sister walks over to the mother and smiles, “Someone special needs you”, she quietly says, placing a reassuring arm around her, leading the way into the recovery ward to be reunited with her child.

Lying snug under a blanket is this tiny figure. The only thing visible is a little foot with a monitor clip on the big toe.

“Thando” she lovingly whispers.

A little bewildered head pops up, and focuses on the source of the voice.

A croaky little voice manages “Mama: and breaks into a little smile, the stitches from the surgery pull tight a  little tear rolls down his beautiful cheek and over his little lip. A little sob follows as he stretches out his arm. For the first time his mother sees his beautiful face, she hesitates and then just lurches forward to embrace him sobbing with joy.

For 10 minutes they just sat looking at each other saying nothing, Pam, the pediatrician, then passed him a mirror to look at himself – Thando just stared and stared, saying nothing, then twisting sideways he put his little arm up around her neck and put his head on her chest and slept.

She sat there softly stroking his little head rocking to and fro quietly singing to him as he slept in her reassuring loving arms. She paused and looked down at him smiling, and one again wept with joy as she said “Now you can also go to school, my boy”.

To all of you involved in this incredible project.

Thank you.

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